There is reported evidence of health and well-being related to exposure to visual landscapes. The School of Experimental Sciences and Technology, Madrid, Spain and the Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning, Ås, Norway conducted a study* published in 2007, that provided three main kind of health effects when a ‘natural’ landscape was viewed, versus an ‘urban’ landscape:
1. Short-term recovery from stress or mental fatigue
2. Faster physical recovery from illness
3. Long-term overall improvement on people’s health and well-being
The study included a literature review of comparative effects between ‘natural’ and ‘urban’ landscapes. It found generally that the natural landscape gave a stronger positive health effect compared to urban landscapes. The latter were found to have a less positive effect and in some cases negative effects on health.
For those of us who live in cities, away from the beauty of a coastline, the ocean or sea – we can certainly relate to the uplifting feeling that comes over us as we gaze out at the sparkling blanket of water, ruffled by the foaming crests of waves folding over and over, or as we watch the sun set nonchalantly on the horizon, gliding downwards out of its gargantuan sky. The expansive vistas that remind us nature is restorative, limitless, breathtaking, healing. Strangers partaking in the same landscape seem closer, friendlier, more open than our urban counterparts. We share the wealth of scenic splendour effortlessly.
Perhaps we should prescribe ourselves – for medical reasons – a daily dose of natural landscape viewing? Though glorious coastlines and warmer climes may be out of reach for us London urbanites – at least for the daily dose – we can always find a park, a pond, a tree, a garden, a river somewhere in the city to view. Our human health depends on it.
* For the full study:
© Amanda Yensa Manor 2015