Two Hours A Week Is Key Dose Of Nature For Health And Wellbeing, Study Finds

by | Nov 22, 2023 | Mental Health, Stress, Well-being | 0 comments

A study conducted by the University of Exeter, which has been published in Scientific Reports and funded by NIHR, has discovered that individuals who allocate at least 120 minutes in natural surroundings every week are notably more likely to report experiencing good health and heightened psychological well-being compared to those who do not engage with nature at all on an average week. Nonetheless, no such advantages were observed among individuals who spent less than 120 minutes a week in natural settings like town parks, woodlands, country parks, or beaches.

The research, which utilized data from nearly 20,000 participants in England, found that achieving the 120-minute threshold could be accomplished through a single visit or multiple shorter visits. This threshold was found to be applicable to both genders, people of varying ages, individuals from different occupational and ethnic backgrounds, residents of affluent and economically disadvantaged areas, and even those dealing with chronic illnesses or disabilities.

Dr. Mat White, who led the study at the University of Exeter Medical School, commented, “It is widely recognized that spending time outdoors in nature can have positive effects on health and well-being, but until now, we lacked a clear understanding of the optimal amount. Most of the nature visits in this research occurred within a two-mile radius of people’s homes, indicating that even visiting local urban green spaces can be beneficial. Achieving two hours a week is a feasible goal for many individuals, especially since it can be spread out over the entire week to reap the benefits.”

Furthermore, there is increasing evidence suggesting that residing in greener neighborhoods can contribute to improved health by reducing air pollution. The data used in this study was derived from Natural England’s Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment Survey, the world’s most extensive study tracking people’s weekly interactions with the natural world.

Co-author of the research, Professor Terry Hartig from Uppsala University in Sweden, added, “There are numerous reasons why spending time in nature may enhance health and well-being, such as gaining perspective on life circumstances, reducing stress, and enjoying quality time with friends and family. The present findings provide valuable guidance to healthcare professionals in recommending nature exposure to foster overall health and well-being, akin to guidelines for weekly physical activity.”

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