Female Wave of Change focusses her projects on 5 pillars: Humanity, Education, Health, Economics and Environment. In this article Marxine Waite from the Environment Team shares her vision in Green Spaces.
Environment en health
There are many ways in which all the four pillars of Female Wave of Change intersect and interact. Green spaces, especially in urban settings are a great example of how the pillars on environment and the health are interconnected. Green spaces are open, natural areas that have been preserved especially for vegetation, greenery and could also be a habitat for various animals, birds and soil organisms.
Green spaces are of critical importance in an environmental context providing a habitat for flora and fauna, areas that counteract pollution and act water catchment areas. The environmental angle of green spaces is perhaps the most obvious use for these natural areas. But, have you ever considered green spaces being a vital component to your wellbeing?
Relationship between humans and nature
Urbanization and city lifestyles have removed many of us from a close association with nature. However our past societies indicates a close relationship between humans and nature deriving much in terms of life supporting services, food as well as cultural and spiritual importance.
The urban lifestyle, although has its perks, has come at a cost on our health and wellbeing. There are many negative impacts associated with life in the city, including increased levels of stress, traffic congestion, air pollution from industries, increased physical inactivity as well as social isolation. The current lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have forced most of us to slow down and truly stop to smell the roses. The need for relief from social isolation, closure of social amenities such as restaurants and reduced usual busyness has highlighted the importance of green spaces.
Impact on health and wellness
There are many proven scientific studies that emphasize the vital importance of nature and green spaces for human health and wellbeing. From a WHO Report on Urban Green Spaces and Health released in 2016, take a look at the following 5 ways in which green areas can be of benefit to your health and wellness:
- Green spaces improve relaxation and mental restoration. There is scientific evidence that being in contact with nature reduces stress levels and increases positive emotions.
- Urban green spaces such as parks increase social interactions, creating friendly relationships and increasing a sense of belonging. This helps to counteract social isolation that has been linked with increased loneliness, morbidity and mortality
- Your immune system could benefit from relaxation in a natural environment or through contact with certain chemical and physical factors in a green space.
- Improved fitness and weight loss. Green spaces provide areas and facilities for physical activity. According to WHO, physical inactivity is the 4th leading risk factor for mortality globally. Therefore access to green spaces for recreational activities including leisure walking can help us combat a sedentary lifestyle and the various associated lifestyle diseases.
- The trees, shrubs and even grass can reduce air pollutants from traffic and industries thereby improving air quality. Wouldn’t we all just love to breathe cleaner, fresher air?
So go ahead, grab your yoga mat, or walking shoes, go outside and enjoy the benefits of nature for your own health and wellbeing.
Female Wave of Change
Article by Marxine Waite, member Circle of Wise Women Female Wave of Change, Member of FWOC Environment Team