Conference focused on benefits of the great outdoors

“Applying this to the working day, we could say that taking a lunchtime walk is beneficial, and doing so in a natural environment will help people to think more clearly and perform more effectively on their return to work.”

Associate Professor Dr Chris Gidlow

A ONE day conference focused on the health benefits of outdoor environments is taking place at Staffordshire University this week.

'Health from the Outside In' brings together leading researchers and professionals involved in natural environments, green space and health, to share latest evidence and practice, and present findings from the European Commission funded PHENOTYPE project.

Stoke-on-Trent has featured substantially in the four year PHENOTYPE research programme and the latest study was recently presented at the British Science Festival.

Associate Professor Dr Chris Gidlow said: “One of our studies involved taking local residents to three local environments - Park Hall Country Park, the canal tow path at Trentham and a residential street in Penkhull – for a 30-minute walk, to measure their psychological and physiological responses, including heart rate and cortisol, which is the stress hormone.”

“The results showed that having a walk in any non-stressful environment can improve mood and reduce stress. We also tested participant cognitive function - their ability to remember, recall and repeat backwards. What we found was that while cognitive function improved for people in all the environments, these benefits lasted longer after visiting the  natural environments.”

“Applying this to the working day, we could say that taking a lunchtime walk is beneficial, and doing so in a natural environment will help people to think more clearly and perform more effectively on their return to work.”

The one day conference taking place tomorrow, April 28, marks the final stages of the PHENOTYPE project and the final project report will be delivered in December.

Chris added: “The project is worth a considerable amount to the University, helping to fund two full-time researchers. The findings are also of benefit to the region, which is why we’ve invited delegates from local authorities and health authorities along to the conference to present their practical experiences to us and ensure that we can turn our research in to useful, practical recommendations.”

The conference programme also includes a free public lecture by Dr William Bird MBE, advisor to Public Health England, entitled Making the Natural Health Service Work. This takes place in the Science Centre on Leek Road from 7pm – 8.30pm. To book your place contact Christine Dover on 01782 294110.

 

 


 

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