Feeling stressed and unhealthy? There's growing evidence that taking a walk in a park might be better than popping a pill.
New research to be released at the World Parks Congress in Sydney tonight highlights the health benefits of outdoor exercise in green spaces.
The research backs up the so called 'green prescription' approach to health care, where doctors tell patients to get out in nature instead of prescribing medication.
Dr Mardie Townsend, a senior lecturer at Deakin University's School of Health, cites one study in the Netherlands which found that people living within 300 metres of a green space have lower stress levels than those living further away.
Her review of 6,000 new articles also shows the importance of 'green' play, particularly for children.
'One of the issues people face in society is children are easily distracted and they are overwhelmed by technology, while being in a green space can restore their attention and increase their well-being.'
'Engaging in nature, their capacity to make connections and think things through is enhanced.'
'Unless we allow our children to get out there and get their hands dirty we're depriving them of an important developmental feature in their lives.'
'Also, the same amount of effort put into a physical activity in green space is perceived as less effort than doing that activity indoors.'
Dr Bill Jackson, chief executive of Parks Victoria, says parks agencies now view it as 'core' business to encourage the health sector and insurance companies to commit funding to support open spaces.
'It's early days but it's starting to happen. If we can tap into the overall health budget that would be ideal.'
Mardie Townsend, Senior lecturer at Deakin University's School of Health.
Dr Bill Jackson, Chief executive of Parks Victoria.
Producer, Belinda Tromp