RESEARCHERS from Manchester Metropolitan University will be working with Natural England to help research the health benefits of nature-based exercise.
The University’s Cheshire campus, in Crewe, hosted a meeting of Natural England’s research strategy group for the first time, which looked at how to focus the hugely varied work being done in the field.
The research strategy group identifies gaps in research, then works with Natural England to define, secure funding for, and deliver projects. The resulting research is passed on to policy groups and practitioners, and helps make a real difference to the lives of people in the UK.
Dr Eric Brymer, Principal Lecturer in Exercise and Sports Science at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Young people are spending less and less time in the natural world – if we find there is a correlation between this and mental health problems that will make a big difference to the education and health perspective. It will make a big difference to the way young people live at the moment.
“From the University’s perspective, it is about being at the forefront of the research area and directly influencing at a national level. Being part of a group Natural England are running on research strategy is absolutely vital if we want to influence and be part of that larger conversation.”
Jim Burk, Principal Adviser for Natural England, said: “Using the natural environment to support health outcomes is becoming a really significant challenge for the Government as part of their work to move the NHS to a more preventative service. Research in this area is becoming pivotal, and we are the only group of this type.”
Dr Brymer added: “The cost of health interventions are enormous and to rethink how we could redesign our environment to support that has massive implications.”
The group are working to change the research in this area from a “scattergun” approach to a more focussed practice. Manchester Met researchers are part of a group that will be modelling what this approach looks like and asking who can answer these research questions and how they would go about it.
Notes to editors
For more information, or to speak to Dr Eric Brymer, please contact Kat Dibbits in the Manchester Metropolitan University press office on 0161 247 5278 or email K.Dibbits@mmu.ac.uk.
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