New study links time in nature to improvements in health and wellbeing

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New study links time in nature to improvements in health and wellbeing

(NaturalHealth365) It’s a well-known fact that spending time outdoors in nature is great for your health.  In fact, there’s even evidence to show that just living in a greener environment can be great for your overall wellbeing.  Generally speaking, just to be clear, time in nature can significantly reduce your stress levels; improve social connections, and greatly enhance your overall perspective on life.

But, here’s the most important question, how much time do you need to spend outdoors to enjoy the benefits?  A recent study published in Scientific Reports and led by the University of Exeter took data from close to 20,000 people in England to try to answer this question.

Spending the ‘right’ time in nature can make all the difference in the world

Research discovered that people spending a minimum of 120 minutes in nature each week enjoy better psychological wellbeing and overall health than those who aren’t getting outdoors. However, no benefits were seen in people who spent less than 120 minutes each week at parks, beaches, and woodlands.

It didn’t seem to matter whether people got their 120 minutes of nature in just one visit, or they spread it out into several visits. The study also found that the need for at least two hours outside was universal for women, men, youth, older adults, and across various ethnic, occupational, and economic groups.

For most of the people studied, nature visits took place within a couple of miles of their home, so it appears that even spending time in local urban green spaces has a positive impact. Whether it’s a city park or time out in the forest, just making sure you get that two hours a week has a significant impact on health and wellbeing.

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The history of “forest bathing” and how it helps us live a healthier life

Of course, getting outside isn’t anything new, particularly in Eastern medicine. Developed in Japan, the practice of Shinrin-yoku, which means forest bathing or taking in the atmosphere of the forest, has been a cornerstone of healing and preventive healthcare for some time.  Both South Korea and Japan have researched the benefits of spending time in a natural area and walking in a relaxed manner.

Several of the scientifically-proven benefits of this practice include:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Improved sleep
  • Stronger immune system
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Improvements in focus
  • Better mood

Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t getting enough time outdoors these days. We spend more time indoors than ever before. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most Americans are spending 87% of their inside with another 6% of their life spend in vehicles.

With new studies supporting the need for at least two hours of outdoor time each week, it’s time to start making changes. Spend more time at the beach, take time for a walk in the park, or head out on a camping trip. Your future health will thank you.

Sources for this article include:

ScienceDaily.com
Shinrin-Yoku.org
Nature.com