We’re all aware that spending time in nature is good for our health. Although we know it, we still tend to look for solid proof before we believe it applies to us.
Well, now researchers have found the minimum time we need to spend in nature for us to start reaping the benefits. Published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports they state that 30 minutes per week is the minimum dose of nature time. In my opinion, that should be a minimum of 30 minutes day, but hey, I’m not a scientist.
Early studies suggest that spending time in blue and green spaces like the beach and the park may benefit our health with lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and stress, and even extend lifespan.
But, the problem is that there is no scientific agreement on what “nature” is. Since it’s a tricky concept, each experiment relies on its own definition. Many studies agree that spending time in nature is beneficial, but few of them specified nature.
There was a study that surveyed 1538 people in Brisbane, Australia. All of them were mixed in age, gender, income, socioeconomic status, and between the ages of 18 and 70. The survey was very comprehensive, asking participants about their physical and mental health, family situations, work hours, exercise habits, and about their time spent outdoors. The researchers asked the participants to answer based on what their perception of “outdoor green space” was.
The results of the survey suggested that nature time links with better health, even after checking for factors like socioeconomic status and exercising. But, just a five-minute walk in the park wasn’t enough for the survey. The participants had to be in green spaces at least 30 minutes per week, to see the effects of being nature.
If you think about it, thirty minutes of park time per week isn’t that much. But, 50 percent of participants said that they hadn’t visited a park in a long time.
According to Danielle Shanahan, a lead author and biologist at the University of Queensland, this is excellent news. She claims that if everyone visited a local park for only 30 minutes each week, there would be seven percent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure.
Around the world that would equate to better health and mental health for millions of people.
“Given that the societal costs of depression in Australia alone are estimated at $A12.6 billion a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense,” she said.
Although the results are great, they come with a big caveat. The survey showed the correlation between better health and time in nature, but it didn’t show causation.
Maybe, people with high blood pressure and depression have a harder time getting to the park. Depression can often make it hard to leave the house, and having a consistent schedule can make high blood pressure even worse.
However, the results of the survey are encouraging, and surely a little time in a peaceful park won’t hurt you. So, make sure to take time off of your busy schedule, and spend few minutes in nature. You will only lose 30 minutes of your time, but you’ll gain a lifetime of better health and happiness.
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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
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