A brisk walk in the countryside or a stroll along the beach is a well-known mood booster and health experts have long recommended getting out of the city improve physical and mental wellbeing.
But a new study suggests that beautiful urban architecture, the sweep of docklands, or a gritty suburban river bank can have just as much impact on health and happiness levels.
Researchers at the University of Warwick say it is ‘scenery’ not just ‘greenery’ which is important when determining what makes a positive environment.
So for Londoners gazing up at St Paul’s Cathedral, viewing the cityscape of Canary Wharf, or enjoying the majestic sight of HMS Belfast berthed on The Thames, are just as beneficial as getting out into the wilds of Britain.
To find out what kind of landscapes made people feel healthier, academics asked people to rate the ‘scenicness’ of more than 212,000 pictures of Britain.
They then compared those 1.5 million ratings to how residents in those areas felt about their health, as reported in the 2011 Census.
Crucially, the researchers found that areas rated as most scenic and uplifting were often not green areas.
The findings imply that it is the overall cohesion of architecture and design which boosts people’s health and happiness, not just the number of parks and trees.