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Just 2 hours of 'forest bathing' weekly may make you happier and healthier

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Spending at least two hours a week in natural environments such as forests or fields may make you healthier and happier, according to an English study. The self-reported survey of 20,000 people showed the benefits were seen in participants of all ages, including those with long-term health issues, so the researchers say the result can't be explained by healthier people visiting nature more often. They say the two hours could be in one hit, or spread over the week, and that those who spent three to five hours in nature every week didn't get any additional wellbeing boost. They also found the benefits weren't affected by the amount of neighbourhood green space near where the participants lived.

Journal/conference: Scientific Reports

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3

Organisation/s: European Centre for Environment and Human Health, UK

Media Release

From: Springer Nature

Spending time in nature linked with good health and wellbeing

Spending at least 120 minutes a week in natural environments is associated with good health and wellbeing, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Mathew White and colleagues surveyed 19,806 adults in England on how much time they had spent over the past week in natural environments, such as fields and woodlands (but not including their own garden), and their self-reported health and wellbeing. They show that people who reported spending 120 minutes or more in nature were more likely to report good health or high levels of wellbeing.

The authors found this association was independent of the size of the available green space in their local neighbourhood. The relationship was also seen in participants of all ages, including those with long-term health issues, which may suggest that the findings were not simply due to healthier people visiting nature more often. It did not matter if the 120 minutes were spent in nature on one occasion or several shorter visits throughout the week, the authors report. Spending under 120 minutes a week in nature was not associated with improved wellbeing, while spending between 200–300 minutes in natural environments showed no additional benefit.

The authors conclude that, although preliminary, the findings represent an important starting point for discussions around providing simple, evidence-based recommendations about the amount of time spent in natural settings that could result in meaningful promotion of health and wellbeing.

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