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Using local neighbourhood environments to support health

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The desire to get out and about, and to access green and natural spaces close to home, is vital to quality of life as people live longer but also want to live well. This presentation describes findings from a number of projects, particularly Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors (I’DGO) – research into older people’s access to the public realm. I’DGO found, for example, that if older people live within ten minutes’ walk of a park, they are more likely to be physically active and satisfied with life, and twice as likely to achieve recommended levels of healthy walking. There is also evidence that urban woodlands and green space make a difference to mental wellbeing and quality of life across the age range, but especially for people living in contexts of deprivation. The presentation will illustrate how such research provides evidence that can inform the Scottish Government’s Good Places, Better Health strategy (a prototype phase focused on children’s health needs) and the Scottish National Walking Strategy. The presentation will close with mention of a new project that builds on these findings – Mood, Mobility and Place – developed in partnership with Edinburgh and Manchester City Councils, both part of the WHO Age-Friendly City network.

Catharine Ward Thompson is Professor of Landscape Architecture and Director of OPE Nspace Research Centre at the University of Edinburgh. Her work focuses on inclusive access to outdoor environments, including work with children, young people and older people. She has been a member of the Scottish Government’s Good Places Better Health Evaluation Group and current research focuses on the relationship between the quality, quantity and accessibility of green and open space and people’s health and wellbeing.

This seminar is being co-hosted by the Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the PublicHealth@Cambridge network.

The Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment is a new Forum in the University which aims to bring together people from across and outside Cambridge to discuss some of the most pressing sustainability challenges we face in the future and the research we need to do to help to prepare for and address those challenges. More information about the Forum can be found here

The PublicHealth@Cambridge network is building a multi-disciplinary community for public health research across Cambridge in order to enable generation of fresh insight into the health and well-being of populations; support development of new research and co-ordinated activities in areas of importance to public health; and facilitate translation of research to benefit current and future populations. For more information, visit our website

This talk is part of the Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment series.

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