Two Hours a Week in Nature Critical to Better Health

New research says spending 120 minutes per week in nature helps maintain good health and well being.
Jessica Miley

Spending at least two hours per week in nature might be critical to maintaining good health and well being. In a large scale study, the people who spent 120 minutes or more in nature per week were more likely to report good health and better overall psychological well being than those that didn’t visit nature at all.

The study completed surveys involving more than 20, 000 people across England. They found that the 120 minutes could be done all at once or in shorter visits. The 120 minute visitation period showed benefits across all ages and sexes involved in the survey, across different occupational and ethnic groups, to people of all salary ranges and financial backgrounds and also to those people living with long term illnesses or disabilities.

Two hours is achievable

Dr Mat White, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said: "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. 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. 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."

Spending time in nature has always been theorized to have benefits but growing evidence suggests even living in greener neighborhoods with trees can assist health and wellbeing.

Findings can be useful to doctors and government

Co-author of the research, Professor Terry Hartig of Uppsala University in Sweden said: "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. 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."

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Spending time in nature is also increasingly important as air pollution increases. Recent reports suggest that 90% of the world's population is affected by low air quality. The effects of long term exposure to polluted air has health impacts beyond our respiratory system.

Research indicates that almost all organs in the body are affected by exposure to air pollution. Chronic air pollution is also likely to cut children's life expectancy.

A major new study has revealed toxic air will shorten the life expectancy of children by 20 months. Severe air pollution is rife across the globe with concentrated areas in South Asia. According to the State of Global Air (SOGA) 2019 study published earlier this year, air pollution contributed to nearly one in every 10 deaths in 2017.

These startling figures make air pollution a bigger killer than malaria and road accidents and making it comparable to smoking cigarettes.

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