Protected Natural Areas: In Sickness and in Health

Romanillos, Teresa
Maneja, Roser
Badiella, Llorenç
Boada, Martí
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Numerous studies show the benefits that contact with the natural environment have for human health, but there are few studies on the role of Protected Natural Areas (PNAs), either from the preventive point of view or on their potential benefits, on individuals with health problems. A study was made of the relationship between the visitation of Montseny Natural Park and Biosphere Reserve and health, from the perspective of a population group with different diseases. A total of 250 patients resident in the areas near the park were surveyed, recording their beliefs about the benefits of nature, as well as the reasons for visiting and the activities associated with health that they carried out in the park. The pure air is the most valued benefit (27.2%), particularly for those with allergies. The majority (57%) visit the park for health reasons. High levels (82%) of exercise are recorded, especially by patients with heart diseases (85%), and 65% exercised in the park. More physical activity is mentioned among those that visit the park most often, particularly among those that carried it out for health reasons. Plants were collected for medicinal use by 39.6%. The study confirmed the significant role of the Montseny Natural Park and Biosphere Reserve as a health resource for individuals with diseases that live near it. It also corroborates the beneficial effects that the PNA provide in human health ​
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