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Annu Rev Public Health. 2014;35:207-28. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182443. Epub 2014 Jan 2.

Nature and health.

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1
Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University, SE-75120 Uppsala, Sweden; email: terry.hartig@ibf.uu.se.

Abstract

Urbanization, resource exploitation, and lifestyle changes have diminished possibilities for human contact with nature in urbanized societies. Concern about the loss has helped motivate research on the health benefits of contact with nature. Reviewing that research here, we focus on nature as represented by aspects of the physical environment relevant to planning, design, and policy measures that serve broad segments of urbanized societies. We discuss difficulties in defining "nature" and reasons for the current expansion of the research field, and we assess available reviews. We then consider research on pathways between nature and health involving air quality, physical activity, social cohesion, and stress reduction. Finally, we discuss methodological issues and priorities for future research. The extant research does describe an array of benefits of contact with nature, and evidence regarding some benefits is strong; however, some findings indicate caution is needed in applying beliefs about those benefits, and substantial gaps in knowledge remain.

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