Spending two hours in nature, be it parks, beaches or woods, can boost mental and physical health, regardless if one was enjoying his time or not, according to a new UK study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The study, based on interviews with around 20,000 people in England, found that those who spend two hours in nature express more satisfaction with life and have a good health compared with those who spend little or no time.
"The thing that most surprised us was how consistent this was across nearly all the groups we looked at: young and old, male, female, urban and rural dwellers, those in deprived versus rich neighborhoods, but perhaps most importantly among those with long-standing illnesses or disabilities," Mathew White of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study stated.
"We were worried our effect was just that healthier people visited nature but this finding suggested even people with known illnesses who did manage to get two hours a week in nature fared better," White added.
"One explanation for our findings might be that time spent in nature is a proxy for physical activity, and it is this which is driving the relationship, not nature contact per se. Various psycho-physiological benefits can be gained from merely sitting passively in natural vs. urban settings,” the report indicates
"We see our findings as an important starting point for discussions around providing simple, evidence-based recommendations about the amount of time spent in natural settings that could result in meaningful promotion of health and wellbeing,” the report concluded.