Spending at least 2 hours per week in nature is the minimum “does” to ensure health benefits and psycho-physical well-being. This was demonstrated by a large study carried out by the European Center for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter Medical School in the UK. The results of this survey were published in Scientific Reports (June 2019).
EVERYONE CAN BENEFIT FROM THE OUTDOORS
This Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment (MENE) research was commissioned by the British government, which surveyed 20,000 Anglo-Saxon individuals during the two-year period 2014-2016. The sample included English residents from different social groups: young and old, male and female, high and low income, etc.
The participants answered questionnaires about their relationship with the outdoors and how often they visit parks, woods, fields, hills, mountains, rivers, beaches, etc. In addition, they were asked questions about their health and their satisfaction regarding their overall well-being. The results show that all the participants involved benefit from spending time outdoors, regardless of age, sex, health status, disability, socioeconomic factors, place of residence, or lifestyle.
THE MORE TIME SPENT OUTDOORS, THE MORE BENEFITS
The questionnaires reveal that 23% of participants who had spent at least 2 hours in the outdoors (during the week prior to the survey) reported being in a great state of well-being, and 59% reported being in good health compared to those who had spent little or no time in nature. Furthermore, the beneficial effects increased as time outdoors increases: a weekly high of 3 hours for health, and 5 hours for overall well-being.
Experts concluded that it takes at least 2 hours spent outdoors to see positive effects regarding personal mental and physical health. This can either be 2 hours at once or split up into smaller sessions that add up to 2 hours per week. These were their observations, after analyzing the effects of practicing physical activity versus sitting on a bench and contemplating nature,. In fact, they concluded that nature is the key factor in beneficial and relaxing effects on the psyche.
Experts suggest that these 2 hours could thus be included in the Health Guidelines and targeted interventions that promote well-being.
White et al. – “Spending at Least 120 minutes a Week in Nature is Associated with Good Health and Well-being” – Scientific Reports (June 2019)