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Spending two hours a week in nature boosts health and well-being

More and more research is revealing the benefits of spending time outdoors, as studies have shown that a little nature therapy goes a long way in improving health and well-being.

Now, a new study has discovered just how much time you should spend taking in the outdoors to reap the most benefits.

Researchers from the University of Exeter reviewed data from Natural Environment Survey, one of the world’s largest studies on people and their interactions with nature, to see how much time was optimal for spending in nature to experience health benefits.

Overall, the researchers collected data from 20,000 people across England.

“It’s well known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and wellbeing, but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough,” said Dr. Mat White, the leader of the study.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that spending 120 minutes or more in nature per week was an ideal amount of time, but spending less than 120 minutes did not garner any health benefits.

These benefits were experienced by women and men, and age, income, occupation, and health status had no impact on the results.  

“The majority of nature visits in this research took place within just two miles of home so even visiting local urban greenspaces seems to be a good thing,” said White. “Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit.”

The people who spent at least two hours a week outside in green spaces were much more likely to report being in good health and having better mental well-being compared to those who reported spending no time in nature.

“There are many reasons why spending time in nature may be good for health and wellbeing, including getting perspective on life circumstances, reducing stress, and enjoying quality time with friends and family,” said Terry Hartig, the co-author of the research. “The current findings offer valuable support to health practitioners in making recommendations about spending time in nature to promote basic health and wellbeing, similar to guidelines for weekly physical.”

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Mimagephotography

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