Listen up, couch potatoes: New research shows that getting outside, even for a short time, is good for you.
People who spend at least two hours a week in nature are more likely to report better psychological satisfaction and good health than those who don’t get outside as much. That is the key finding by researchers at England’s Exeter University, who studied data from nearly 20,000 people in the United Kingdom.
It’s long been known that spending time in the fresh air and sunshine can boost your health and well-being, but scientists didn’t know how much time it took to achieve these positive effects. The answer seems to be about two hours, an amount found to improve a person’s well-being regardless of age, gender, income and ethnicity. The research showed that even those with long-term illnesses reported feeling better.
Here’s the good news: It doesn’t matter where you go — parks, beaches or woodlands all bestowed the same beneficial effects. It also doesn’t have to be in one visit. The two hours of outdoor time can create the same effect with multiple, shorter visits or a single outing.
And you don’t have to travel far to feel better. Most of the nature visits reported by participants took place within two miles of home.
Spending time in nature offers many opportunities to improve well-being, including spending time with family, reducing stress and gaining life perspectives. The findings also add to a growing body of evidence that living in or near green spaces contributes to better health.
So, get up and get out there. When it comes to less stress and more well-being, green spaces are golden.