A two-hour “dose” of nature a week significantly boosts health and wellbeing

Even if you simply sit and enjoy the peace

The physical and mental health benefits of time spent in parks, woods or the beach are well known, but the new research is the first major study into how long is needed to produce the effect. If confirmed by future research, two hours in nature could join five a day of fruit and veg and 150 minutes of exercise a week as official health advice.

A landscape of trees

The finding is based on interviews with 20,000 people in England about their activity in the previous week. Of those who spent little or no time in nature, a quarter reported poor health and almost half said they were not satisfied with their life, a standard measure of wellbeing. In contrast, just one-seventh of those who spent at least two hours in nature said their health was poor, while a third were not satisfied with their life.

Wren singing in shrubbery

“What really amazed us was this was true for just about every group we could think of,” said Dr Mathew White, at the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study. The benefits of a two-hour dose were the same for both young and old, wealthy and poor, and urban and rural people, he said.

Frog in a pond

It also applied to those with long-term illnesses and disabilities, White said. “So getting out in nature seemed to be good for just about everybody. It doesn’t have to be physical exercise – it could be just sitting on a bench.”

Read the full report in the Guardian here


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