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Stanford researchers map how people in cities get a health boost from nature

Updated: May 15

Lack of physical activity in the U.S. results in $117 billion a year in related health care costs and leads to 3.2 million deaths globally every year. It may seem like an intuitive connection, but the new research closes an important gap in understanding how building nature into cities can support overall human #wellbeing.


#Stanford researchers published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lays out how access to nature increases people’s physical activity – and therefore overall health – in cities. The team combined decades of public health research with information on nature’s benefits to people in cities. They considered how activities like dog walking, jogging, cycling and community gardening are supported by cities’ natural spaces.

The research will ultimately serve as the basis for a new health model in Natural Capital Project software – free, open-source tools that map the many benefits nature provides people. The software was recently used to inform an assessment of 775 European cities to understand the potential of nature-based solutions for addressing climate change. Eventually, the new health model software will be available to city planners, investors and anyone else interested in new arguments and tools for targeting investments in nature in cities.


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