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Exercise in the open air is good for you, but researchers from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (United Kingdom) suggest that to reap the full benefits you should head for the coast or the countryside, rather than an urban park.

Katherine Ashbullby and colleagues studied data from 2750 English respondents drawn from Natural England’s two-year study of people’s engagement with the natural environment. Assessing people who had visited urban parks, the countryside and the coast, the team found that all outdoor locations were associated with positive feelings (enjoyment, calmness, refreshment), but visits to the coast were most beneficial—and visits to urban parks least beneficial. This finding remained when the researchers took account of factors like people’s age, how far they had travelled the presence of others and the activity they undertook. The study authors observe that: “Our findings suggest it is time to move beyond a simple urban versus rural debate and start looking at the effect that different natural environments have on people’s health and well-being.”


  1. K Ashbullby, M White. Presentation at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, 19 April 2012.