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June 13, 2019

A weekly total of two hours spent in nature promotes optimal health and wellness – study

Previous research has indicated benefits in as little as 20 minutes in the Great Outdoors

Wellness Nature
Carroll - Walking in Rittenhouse Square Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Walking through Rittenhouse Square on a sunny morning.

Multiple studies have proven the benefits that time in nature has on the mental, physical and emotional health of humans, but the optimal time to spend amid the trees and critters needed to reap these benefits has been inconsistent.

While some say a 20-minute dose of nature is enough to ease stress, a new study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports holds that two hours per week is the golden ticket for good health and well-being.

Researchers at England’s University of Exeter found that people who spend two hours in nature on a weekly basis are more likely to report good health — both mental and physically – according to the study.

RELATED READ: A dose of nature is all the medicine you need when feeling stressed

These findings do not, however, ring true for those who spend less than two hours in nature-filled spaces weekly, researchers say.

The sizable study – it involved 20,000 United Kingdom residents – showed across the board that this two-hour nature quota applied to men and women, older and younger adults, ethnic groups, classes and health levels, researchers say. The findings applied to those who obtained the two-hour nature dose in one visit, or in multiple trips throughout the week.

For city dwellers, this concept of nature might be a little confusing, if not challenging, but the researchers note that most of the nature visits involved in this study were conducted within two miles of home. That said, urban green spaces — like any of Philly’s neighborhood parks — definitely count.

Professor Terry Hartig, co-author of the study, stated:

"There are many reasons why spending time in nature may be good for health and wellbeing, including getting perspective on life circumstances, reducing stress, and enjoying quality time with friends and family. The current findings offer valuable support to health practitioners in making recommendations about spending time in nature to promote basic health and wellbeing, similar to guidelines for weekly physical."

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