Health benefits after just two hours outdoors


Spending two hours outdoors and the Health benefits

Two hours outdoors every week. This is the exact amount of time we need to spend outside to improve our health. This is according to a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

We all know that spending time outdoors is good for our health and well being. Numerous studies show that time in nature relieves stress. It lowers blood pressure and stress hormone levels. Nature-related activities reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety and improve our mood. Gardening and farming have been used as part of mental health treatment around the world for centuries. It successfully reduces feelings of isolation and promotes calm. What we didn’t know was exactly how long or how frequently we should be spending outside. Is there a recommended dose? How much nature is enough? Turns out the answer is 120 minutes each week.

The research behind spending two hours outdoors

Researchers examined data from a 20,000 person survey from 2014-2016. Participants were asked to record their activities from the previous week. From the data, experts discovered that people who spend two hours a week in green spaces report better health and greater psychological well-being than those who did not.

Interestingly, spending only 60 or 90 minutes outside showed no health benefits. And five hours a week in nature offered no additional health benefits either. “Two hours a week was the threshold for both men and women, older and younger adults, different ethnic groups, people living in richer or poorer areas, and even for those living with long term illnesses.”

Green Space Proximity

Living close to a park or green space did not matter. How often greenspaces were frequented did not matter. It also did not matter if participants got two hours outdoors all at once or spaced over several visits. What mattered was accumulating two hours of outdoor time each week. Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, who led the study says, “Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit.”

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