120 Minutes in Nature

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March 15, 2020
Edward Smith

Enjoy Time in Nature for Your Health

Get Outside for Two Hours

A study conducted by the Environment and Human Health Department at Exeter has determined that people who spent 120 minutes in nature per week were much more likely to document psychological well-being and good health than those who did not.  

The study involved 20,000 subjects, and results revealed that the two-hour threshold was clear.  Participants who spend less time in green spaces did not have any added benefit.   

The “nature” aspect of the study included trails, woodlands, beaches, local parks, as well as other natural environments.  The 120 minutes could be either spaced out over several visits or enjoyed all at one time. The effects transcended different ethnic groups, different occupations, various socioeconomic groups from rich to poor, and people with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

It has been well known that getting fresh air, spending time outside in natural light, and seeking nature can be useful for a person’s well-being and health.  The goal of the study was to quantify how much time was necessary to reap the benefits. The researchers were encouraged by the two hours per week threshold, as it is a realistic target for most people, especially since it can be divided into smaller chunks of time over the course of a week.

What are the Benefits?

Other prior studies support the conclusion that time in nature is good for humans.  As long as the person feels safe in the natural environment, the time in green spaces is an apparent antidote for stress.  Some of the benefits of spending time in nature are:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower stress hormones such as cortisol
  • Reduction of nervous system arousal
  • Immune system function enhancement
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Less aggression
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Increased rate of healing

A separate study done by psychiatric researchers revealed that being in nature led to reduced feelings of isolation.  It also lifted the patients’ moods and promoted a sense of calm.

Interestingly, some studies, such as one conducted in the U.K. in 2015, which involved 2,000 participants, showed that the effects of nature could go even deeper than increasing health and well-being and may reduce aggression and crime rates.  The abundance of flora and vegetation was found to be associated with a decrease in violent crimes.  

Much of the research regarding the effects of nature produced results that were correlational, not causal.  It is hard to prove that exposure to nature actually caused the effects.  However, a professor at the University of Michigan noted that epidemiological studies that indicated physiological effects before and after exposure to nature garnered robust results.

Watch YouTube Video: Prescribing Nature for Health.  In the clip below, Dr. Nooshin Razani discusses a prescription for nature.

How We Can Include More Nature in Our Lives

Some ways in which the integration of nature and natural settings into our lives can occur are adding and enhancing parks within cities, incorporating large windows in office and school spaces, and providing access to trees and green spaces in those settings as well.  The concept of outdoor schools is becoming more popular in the United States and has long been a tradition in Scandinavian countries. Washington state recently became one of the first to license outdoor preschool, an environment where a large portion of learning and play activities take place outdoors.

Most people will admit to feeling better after a walk outdoors.  In this age of out of control technology, communication through cell phones, internet addictions, and generally so much time spent in front of an electronic screen, we could all benefit from a widespread effort to bring nature into our lives on a much more frequent basis.

Stockton Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Stockton personal injury lawyer.  If you have been injured in an automobile accident that was caused by a negligent driver, reach out to me at (800) 404-5400 or (209) 227-1931 for free, friendly advice.

I have worked on behalf of injured Stockton residents for more than 38 years, and have achieved many successful settlements and verdicts.  Please visit the links below to read what our past clients have to say about our firm:

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Photo Attribution: Brenkee on Pixabay

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