How green spaces benefit wellbeing


Although not a golfer, Prof. Jenny Roe, Director of the Center for Design & Health at the University of Virginia, has her own pandemic golf story to tell.

Sheltering in place with family in Scotland during the Covid-19 outbreak and academic summer recess, she started exploring nearby golf courses.

“I walked on golf courses in Edinburgh which had been opened up to the public under Covid and I am very grateful for that,” explains Prof. Roe, a leading expert in environmental psychology. 

“Having appreciated their value, it could now prompt my interest in golf as a sport.”

Yet it wasn’t so much the physical exercise that Prof. Roe appreciated in her daily strolls; it was the calming benefits of walking on green grass, seeing trees all around and being surrounded by nature. 

“Contact with nature slows down our stress response and induces calm,” Prof. Roe explains. “There is evidence to show this is happening in our biological system.

“It is promoting stress resilience, it is improving our mood, it’s decreasing our risk of depression and increasing our social wellbeing, particularly on a golf course where you are interacting with other members of that community. So there are a host of mental and social wellbeing benefits."

While theories of how nature benefits our health are somewhat complex, the result is clear: spending time in nature – at least two hours per week, as recent research has suggested – is good for you. 

And it may be a key reason why the call of the golf course has been so strong as people emerge from their homes in the wake of Covid-19.

This article is taken from multimedia feature, 'The new value of golf's green spaces'. To explore the feature in full, click the link below:

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