It has long been observed that spending time in nature improves people’s health, especially their mental health. What hasn’t been known until now is how much time is required in order to see this benefit.
A new large-scale observational study led by the University of Exeter set out to answer this question, with the results having recently been published in Scientific Reports.
Using data from 20,000 people in England, they determined that spending at least two hours in nature per week was linked to a significant increase in physical and mental health over spending no time in nature.
These results were the same regardless of whether the time was spent in completely natural surroundings or urban green space. It also didn’t matter how short a time was spent, as long as it totaled two hours.
The results also accounted for a host of factors including gender, ethnicity, occupation, age, income and long term illness or disability.
As an observational study it cannot indicate causation, by study authors stated it was likely that time in nature reduced stress, allowed people to pause and gave an opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones. They added that they hoped medical practitioners would use the results as a guide for ‘prescribing’ nature time, in a similar way to physical activity.
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Source: Medical Xpress