New research shows the quality of the view can boost your health

Making an effort to exercise in a scenic area could pay dividends for your health, according to an innovative new study. Researchers crossreferenced where people lived with health data from the 2011 Census for England and Wales, in which participants reported their general health as “very good”, “good”, “fair”, ‘bad’ or “very bad”.

The results revealed that, “across all of England, people report better health when living in areas of greater scenicness,” said Chanuki Seresinhe, a PhD student in the Data Science Lab at Warwick Business School.

The study, Quantifying the Impact of Scenic Environments on Health, concluded that the higher health values of scenic areas remain significant, despite the facts that wealthier people may live in more scenic areas; that cities may be less scenic due to the lack of nature and higher population density; and that scenic areas may be less polluted.

Importantly, the research identified a distinction between scenic areas and merely green space.

“This is a fascinating finding. Just because a place is green does not compel us to feel better on its own. It seems to be that the beauty of the environment, as measured by scenicness, is of crucial importance,” added Seresinhe

Green, it seems, is not the most important colour in identifying a place as scenic. Large proportions of grey, brown and blue (“perhaps corresponding to mountains or lakes,” suggested Seresinhe) are more likely to convey scenic status.

“Our results suggest that the beauty of our everyday environment might have more practical importance than was previously believed,” added Seresinhe.

“In order to ensure the wellbeing of local inhabitants urban planners and policymakers might find it valuable to consider the aesthetics of the environment when embarking upon large projects to build new parks, housing developments or highways. Our findings imply that simply introducing greenery, without considering the beauty of the resulting environment, might not be enough.”