Promoting health and well-being

Good health is determined by a range of factors – many of them linked to our physical environment. Making neighbourhoods safer, more accessible and better cared-for are great assets in encouraging healthy lifestyles.

Some doctors are prescribing a walk in the park to patients because exercise has been shown to halve the risk of a heart attack, diabetes or colon cancer. Moderate activity can help with treating depression and is linked to combating cognitive decline, an important factor for our ageing population.

But people are not benefitting equally from green spaces. There are dramatic differences in the quality of open spaces when comparing deprived and affluent areas. Providing good quality local green space is an effective way to tackle inequality.

The following facts and figures illustrate the role that the design of buildings and spaces can play in promoting health and well-being:

  • £4.2 billion
    The annual cost to the NHS of obesity and related diseases
  • 50 per cent
    The reduction in risk of heart attack by a daily walk in the park
  • 91 per cent
    People who believe that public parks and open spaces improve quality of life
  • 300 per cent
    Increased likelihood of residents being physically active in residential areas with high levels of greenery.

Publications about promoting health and well-being

Community green: using local spaces to tackle inequality and improve health
Investigating the relationship between urban green space, inequality, ethnicity, health and wellbeing in the largest study of its kind in England.

Urban green nation: building the evidence base
No one knows exactly how many green spaces there are in our urban areas, where they are, who owns them or what condition they are in. Our new report starts to fill this information gap.

The value of public space: how high quality parks and public spaces create economic social and environmental value
Showing how cities in the UK and around the world have used their public spaces to deliver economic, health and social benefits.