Step Outside: Nature Could Relieve Your Stress

A woman carrying a backpack and walking stick as she hikes through the woods
kali9/Getty Images

During stressful times there’s a simple thing you can do to boost your feelings of health and well-being: Spend some time outside in nature.

A recent study of nearly 20,000 people in England found that those who spent at least two hours (120 minutes) a week in nature — meaning green spaces like parks and wooded areas — were significantly more likely to report better health and mental well-being than those who didn’t visit a nature setting at all during an average week.

Even better, it didn’t matter whether those 120 minutes were achieved in one long visit or broken up into several spurts during the week. That means you could potentially benefit just as much from a 17-minute daily walk.

Read more about ways to manage stress, in Find Your Calm

And visiting a nearby park can be just as beneficial as trekking to larger, farther-away places. The majority of nature visits study participants took occurred within just two miles of their homes, researchers reported.

But two hours outdoors weekly is key, the findings indicate. Subjects who spent less than 120 minutes during the week got no benefits.

The research adds to a number of studies suggesting that people who spend more time outside in natural settings report better mental and physical health.

The takeaway here is that whether you’re working from home and need a break or are anxious and in need of a change of scenery, going somewhere quiet filled with foliage to walk may be just the balm your brain needs.

For more on this study read the full article on How Nature Can Improve Your Mood, or check out these:

Too Much Stress Can Be Bad for Your Health

A Nature Walk Cuts Anxiety, Helps Memory and Eases Negative Thoughts

Editor’s note: Check with your local jurisdiction about whether trails and parks are open and follow health guidelines for social distancing in your area.

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