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'Outdoors is a health boost', says agency

8th November 2006

A new agency is advising people to get out and about in Britain in order to improve their health.

Natural England has launched its campaign in response to growing evidence that being outside can help to prevent disease and also boost recovery from illness.

The agency is a coalition of environmental, educational, scientific, health and community organisations and is calling on health professionals to 'prescribe' the outdoors as a remedy for illness.

"Increasing evidence suggests that both physical and mental health are improved through contact with nature," said Dr William Bird, health adviser for Natural England.

"Yet people are having less contact with nature than at any other time in the past. This has to change," he added.

The benefits of being out and about were confirmed by Paul Farmer, the chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, who said that there is growing evidence to suggest the beneficial effects of a "pleasant and positive environment".