Spending two hours a week in nature is associated with good health

New research confirms that two hours a week in the outdoors are enough to benefit from the positive effects on physical and mental health. City green is also fine


Spending time in natural environments can benefit health and well-being. This time the news comes from a research published in the journal Scientific Reports of the Nature group, according to which to have beneficial effects on physical and psychological health it is enough to spend two hours a week in the midst of nature. Does it seem difficult to you? It is not, especially if you think that it is enough to go to the green areas of your city to benefit from the positive effects.

The study, conducted in England on nearly 20,000 people, shows that people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in natural areas are more likely to enjoy good health and psychological well-being. But be careful not to go below the minimum threshold otherwise the beneficial effects deriving from frequenting parks or beaches are not guaranteed.

“It is well known that living outdoors in contact with nature can be good for people’s health. Until now, however, we weren’t able to define the minimum threshold for obtaining the benefits” said Mat White of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study.

It does not matter if the 120 minutes are totaled in one visit or in several short visits: the benefits are obtained in both cases. The research also shows that the minimum threshold of two hours of nature per week applies to everyone, in a transversal way: and therefore both for women and for men, both for young people and for the elderly, both for the rich and for those who lives in poor conditions; it can be applied to different professional and ethnic groups and also applies to people with diseases and disabilities.

To benefit from the positive effects of nature, it is not necessary to go very far. “Most of the contacts with nature detected in this research – explains White – took place just two kilometers from home. Visiting city parks also seems to have good effects. And two hours a week should be a realistic goal for most people, especially since it can be achieved through short visits spread over seven days”.

There are several reasons for the benefits for body and mind deriving from contact with nature: a better life perspective, less stress, more quality time spent with friends and relatives. According to Terry Hartig of the University of Uppsala (Sweden), co-author of the research, “this discovery offers valuable support to the scientific community in making recommendations on the need to spend time in nature to promote health and well-being, similar to existing guidelines for carrying out physical exercise”.

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