Do you spend more than 120 minutes a week in parks, forests, the mountains, the countryside or the beach? Well, you do great, because people who do are much more likely to be healthy, both physically and mentally, than those who never go out in the wild.
This has been proven by a University of Exeter study of some 20,000 people funded by the UK Health Service (NIHR), recently published in Scientific Reports. The subject has aroused so much interest that I have seen it commented on in all the major international media, whether in the press, radio, television or on the Internet.
I know it’s not new. If you follow this blog, you will have seen how much I talk about the benefits of living outdoors, including reducing the risk of depression and overweight, not to mention the health of your arteries and less exposure to air pollution.
What’s so innovative about the British study? That it’s the first time science has set a “minimum of nature hours” per week. Moreover, you don’t have to travel to the coast, the countryside or the mountains to complete those 120 minutes, because that nature time also applies to the time you spend in parks and other urban green spaces.
“You can complete those two hours in one go or by adding up minutes of life in nature areas every day, the important thing is the total,” adds Dr. Mat White, director of the work, who explains that they took their data from the British survey Commitment to the Natural Environment, the largest ever conducted in the world on people’s contact with nature.
“There are lots of studies that explain why spending time in the natural environment is good for health and well-being,” insists Professor Terry Hartig of Uppsala University (Sweden) and co-author of the paper. “I would like to add that living more in nature environments improves one’s perspective on life, reduces stress and allows for quality time, both alone and with friends and family… The value of this new study is that it offers concrete recommendations on the nature time we need. We believe it can help people to be more aware of it.