Natural environments and subjective wellbeing: Different types of exposure are associated with different aspects of wellbeing

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Abstract

Despite growing interest in the relationships between natural environments and subjective wellbeing (SWB), previous studies have various methodological and theoretical limitations. Focusing on urban/peri-urban residents (n=7272) from a nationally representative survey of the English population, we explored the relationships between three types of exposure: i) ‘neighbourhood exposure’, ii) ‘visit frequency’, and iii) ‘specific visit’; and four components of SWB: i) evaluative, ii) eudaimonic, iii) positive experiential and iv) negative experiential. Controlling for area and individual level socio-demographics and other aspects of SWB, visit frequency was associated with eudaimonic wellbeing and a specific visit with positive experiential wellbeing. People who visited nature regularly felt their lives were more worthwhile, and those who visited nature yesterday were happier. The magnitude of the association between weekly nature visits and eudaimonic wellbeing was similar to that between eudaimonic wellbeing and life circumstances such as marital status. Findings are relevant for policies to protect and promote public access to natural environments.

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