There is significant evidence of the benefits of exposure to nature, from seeing trees out a window to living in a neighbourhood with street trees. All have been shown to affect factors like reducing the amount of medication patients take after surgery, increasing productivity at work, and decreasing rates of aggression. But new research carried out in the UK indicates that you need at least 120 minutes outside in natural environments per week to show benefits, in this case higher reports of good health and higher psychological well-being.
White et al (2019) found that individuals who had at least 120 minutes reported higher health and well-being with the benefits peaking somewhere between 200 and 300 minutes. They did question whether this benefit was instead related to physical activity but the evidence did not support that. What I’m curious about though is whether it is related to making at least 2 hours of time to do something for yourself. As always it is hard to figure out correlation versus causation and I want nature to be beneficial but it does seem like there could be a lot of compounding factors. At the same time, I have zero issues with anything that encourages people to spend time in any form of nature. To me there are benefits beyond our own good health and well-being including getting rid of the artificial dichotomy that separates humans and nature, having people become more connected to nature so that they can see more of the changes associated with issues like climate change.
Regardless, I’ll take this article as evidence that I need to spend a minimum of 2 hours hours outside each and every week. Of course I’m probably not the person who needs an excuse to spend time outside.
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