Spending Time In Nature Significantly Boosts Health, Study Finds

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A study published in the U.K. in the journal Scientific Reports found interesting results when it comes to the correlation between spending time in nature and better health, reported CNN.

The study gathered data from interviews conducted with 20,000 people in England, in which scientists asked questions about how much time participants spent in nature and what sort of contact they had with the outdoors.

After analyzing the data, the scientists reported that spending at least two hours per week in the great outdoors can go a long way in improving health and well-being, both physical and mental.

Participants who responded that they had little to no contact with nature were found to report low levels of life satisfaction, in addition to poor health. However, those who spent more than two hours outside were less likely to report low life satisfaction, and only one in seven reported being in poor health, compared with one in four in those who had little to no contact.

Mathew White of the University of Exeter Medical School led the study and commented on the results, saying that the research team was surprised by how consistent the results were.

“The thing that most surprised us was how consistent this was across nearly all the groups we looked at: young and old, male, female, urban and rural dwellers, those in deprived versus rich neighborhoods, but perhaps most importantly among those with long-standing illnesses or disabilities.”

White cautioned that follow-up research needs to be carried out to gather more data and confirm their findings in addition to performing experiments over longer periods of time.

“We were worried our effect was just that healthier people visited nature but this finding suggested even people with known illnesses who did manage to get two hours a week in nature fared better.”

Additionally, the study results found that the two hours per week was sufficient to see a significant impact on self-reported health and well-being and that there were not increased benefits for those who spent more than two hours outside.

The caveat of the study is that it only looked at the results of people who spent time in public outdoor spaces and did not count time spent in a private garden or backyard.

Mark Holder, an associate professor of psychology from the University of British Columbia, has found similar results in his own research on human happiness, telling CNN that mindful experiences in nature seem to increase well-being, adding that the size of the effect is strong.