Lonely Planet Writer

Study finds pretty cities as good for you as country views

You don’t have to live in the middle of the countryside to boost your health, indeed, new research has discovered that residing in pretty cities can provide an even bigger stimulus to your well-being.

View of St. Paul's Cathedral, London can be as good as a green scene in the country for a person's health says new research
View of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London can be as good as a green scene in the country for a person’s health says new research Image by Jon Chan / CC BY 2.0

Scenery and not just ‘greenery’ is what creates a positive environment for a person’s mental health, according to the latest findings. The MailOnline reports that the actual quality of scenery is part and parcel of how people feel. For instance, Londoners taking in a view of St Paul’s Cathedral or watching traffic on the River Thames find those views at least as beneficial for their health as traversing large woodland or looking out across a rural hillside landscape.

A view of London, from The Shard. Image by [Duncan] / CC BY 2.0.
Pleasing cityscapes are as important to health as country views. Image by [Duncan] / CC BY 2.0

The study by Warwick Business School academics asked respondents to give their ratings on the ‘scenicness’ of more than 200,000 pictures across the UK. Once they got that information, they compared it to how people had responded to areas of health as recorded in the 2011 Census. The surprising outcome was that green areas were regularly not the ones people felt were most uplifting. Instead, it is more dependent on the overall cohesion of architecture and design which boosts people’s health and happiness.

Chanuki Seresinhe, a PhD student in the Data Science Lab at Warwick Business School said the findings in their study were “fascinating.” She stressed that the results strongly indicated that people’s everyday environment had more practical importance than had been understood up to now. The Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and co-director of Warwick Business School’s Data Science Lab, Dr Suzy Moat, said citizens reported better health in areas with more green land cover but now urban settings and areas could also aid healthier feelings.