Gascon, M., Zijlema, W., Vert, C., White, M. P & Nieuwenhuijsen, M. (2017). Outdoor blue spaces, human health and well-being: a systematic review of quantitative studies. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health,220(8), A. Calafat, H. Koch. 1207-1221. Germany: Elsevier GmbH - Urban und Fischer. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2017.08.004
Background A growing number of quantitative studies have investigated the potential benefits of outdoor blue spaces (lakes, rivers, sea, etc) and human health, but there is not yet a systematic review synthesizing this evidence. Objectives To systematically review the current quantitative evidence on human health and well-being benefits of outdoor blue spaces. Methods Following PRISMA guidelines for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analysis, observational and experimental quantitative studies focusing on both residential and non-residential outdoor blue space exposure were searched using specific keywords. Results In total 35 studies were included in the current systematic review, most of them being classified as of “good quality” (N = 22). The balance of evidence suggested a positive association between greater exposure to outdoor blue spaces and both benefits to mental health and well-being (N = 12 studies) and levels of physical activity (N = 13 studies). The evidence of an association between outdoor blue space exposure and general health (N = 6 studies), obesity (N = 8 studies) and cardiovascular (N = 4 studies) and related outcomes was less consistent. Conclusions Although encouraging, there remains relatively few studies and a large degree of heterogeneity in terms of study design, exposure metrics and outcome measures, making synthesis difficult. Further research is needed using longitudinal research and natural experiments, preferably across a broader range of countries, to better understand the causal associations between blue spaces, health and wellbeing.
Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research
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