People who make weekly visits to natural spaces, and feel connected to them, report better physical and mental wellbeing, according to a study.
Researchers, including those from the University of Plymouth in the UK, also found that people who make nature visits are more likely to behave in ways which promote environmental health, such as recycling and conservation activities.
The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, suggests that reconnecting with nature could be key to achieving synergistic improvements to human and planetary health.
It is the first study to analyse the contribution of both contact of nature and connection to human health, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours, the researchers said.
The team looked at people's engagement with nature though access to green spaces, nature visits and the extent to which they felt psychologically connected to the natural world.
"In the context of increasing urbanisation, it is important to understand how engagement with our planet's natural resources relate to human health and behaviour," said lead author Leanne Martin, from the University of Plymouth.
"Our results suggest that physically and psychologically reconnecting with nature can be beneficial for human health and wellbeing, and at the same time encourages individuals to act in ways which protect the health of the planet," Martin said.
These findings provide vital new insights of the need to not just increase contact with nature, but about the sorts of experience that really help people build an emotional connection, said Marian Spain, Chief Executive of Natural England, the UK government's adviser for the natural environment.
"This is key to unlocking health benefits as well as inspiring people to taking action to help their environment," said Spain.