Prescribing nature and physical activity for wellbeing

Prescribing nature and physical activity for wellbeing

How does this impact on Community Wellbeing? Spending time outdoors and being physically active improves health and wellbeing. In Dundee we use Green Health Prescriptions, a referral pathway for healthcare professionals and others (JobCentre, Community Groups) to refer people with poor mental and physical health, social isolation, and lack of finances to free community run activities (nature-based interventions, NBIs). NBIs are run by the third-sector and include walking, cycling, gardening groups and many other activities like yoga and tai chi. Activities vary in intensity and include various options for everyone to get outdoors and active with trained staff support. The research evidence for the benefit of green health is enormous and we are currently not maximising on this potential. A return of £6.88 for every £1 invested in programmes that are designed to improve mental, physical and social wellbeing is also significant (https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/2019-09/SROI%20Report%20FINAL%20-%20DIGITAL.pdf) Why should the Committee focus on this as part of their future work? While no GP practice can solve these problems by itself, what it can do is connect patients with relevant services and healthy activities. Through the Green Health Prescriptions we introduced a tool GPs and other healthcare staff can use to effectively sign-post patients to free local outdoor physical activity. This saves time and participating in any of our activities has a positive long-term impact on the patients health. This is a cost effective way to boost community health and wellbeing.

Points

This is a no brainer. No matter how you cut this up, it is a win win for everyone involved.

As a Director of a social enterprise which delivers nature connection activities, we find we struggle to get 'referrals' - it would be ideal if we could join a list at the GPs etc so that people could be referred to us (and funded).

Increase funding for occupational therapists to lead these referral projects. They are the experts in linking activity to wellbeing holistically.

Very good idea, promoting more active lifestyles via walking, cycling and active travel is a winner from the outset.

For mental health which is receiving increased focus and attention (rightly so) the great Scottish outdoors is the perfect remedy. Hillwalking and exercising outdoors surrounded by beautiful scenery can take ones thoughts away from whatever enduring thought process or even distract one even for a moment. This is as others have suggested a no brainer!

I do support this as a form of recovery and there seems to be more and more evidence to suggest it works. For me, for it to really take off we need to integrate it into all of our society. Obviously this won't be easy and will take more than one generation to normalise but we should be playing the long game. Telling people how they should live their life doesn't work. If we normalise it so it becomes cultural and in everyday life and work Scotland will be healthy nation long after we are gone.

access to the countryside and fresh air especially in daylight in the winter should be available to everyone

Sounds a great idea. My only reservation that there are many local activities provided by volunteers such as amateur sports clubs, and U3A or fifty plus which do charge. Rather than just free activities which need to be funded, could financial help be given for those on certain benefits to join in more mainstream activities to give a wider choice?

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