Can a smaller carbon footprint lead to lower blood pressure or a reduced diabetes risk? The city of Lahti invited five locals to test individualized health plans based on the principles of planetary health to see if a greener lifestyle could also be good for your health.
The concept of planetary health treats people as an intrinsic part of nature. When we take care of the environment, we are also looking after human health. In 2021, the Lahti region health services were the first in Finland to appoint a planetary health physician into their public healthcare offering.
The participants were given personalized prescriptions, where greener choices and a stronger nature connection were used as a means of improving their health. Among other things, the planetary health specialist prescribed barefoot forest walks, replacing dairy-based spreads with foraged wild herbs, building insect habitats in backyards, and taking small steps to introduce more vegetables onto the grocery list.
The experiment is inspired by Lahti’s ongoing 10-year “Nature Step to Health” initiative, which studies the long-term public health impact of a greener lifestyle. Lahti is known for its green credentials: a pioneer in urban sustainability, it was named the official European Green Capital 2021 by the European Commission. It continues to promote a sustainable way of living that balances urbanity with nature.