The Best Dose of Nature for Health
A large body of science has linked time in Mother Nature to a dazzling list of health benefits both physically and mentally, but little is known about how much time it may take to reap benefits.
Thanks to researchers from England’s University of Exeter, we now have some science-based guidance on the best dose.
For this study the researchers evaluated the self-reported health status, as well as the weekly amount of recreational time spent in nature of 20,000 British adults of all ages and ethnicities. The results were telling. Those spending two or more hours in nature over the week, in increments or all at once, were significantly more likely to report good health and mental wellbeing vs. those not engaging in nature
. How big a difference? Equivalent to getting the recommended daily exercise vs. not, or working in a high vs. low social grade job! That is huge from a public health standpoint.
What’s more, the benefits were consistently seen across all age groups, ethnicities, and health statuses. The researchers also noted that getting anything less than 2 hours a week was on par with getting none—indicating a threshold effect. Lastly, the peak level for benefits was seen in those getting a dose of 4.5 to 6 hours a week. Thus, more appeared to be better up to a point.
The exposure to nature defined in this study included urban greenspaces like town parks and beaches, as well as more rural woodlands and country parks. Personally, I am convinced that Mother Nature is the best kept secret to better health. I strive to be in her midst as often as I can.
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