Public Domain Angelo_Giordano A new study reveals that for urban dwellers, spending just 20 minutes with natural elements significantly lowers stress. Have you heard about "nature pills" and "nature prescriptions"? After repeated studies have concluded that contact with nature reduces stress and improves well-being, doctors have started "prescribing" time spent outside. But while we know it works, the parameters have been a bit murky: What kind of nature works? How often should one spend time in nature? And for how long? With this in mind, researchers from the University of Michigan set out to discover the relationship between the duration of a nature experience (NE), and changes in two physiological biomarkers of stress – salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase. The research is novel in that, among other things, the study participants were free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place of a NE in response to personal preference and changing daily schedules. For eight weeks, 36 urban dwellers were asked to have a NE at least three times a week for a duration of 10 minutes or more. As the study explains: "The NE was defined as anywhere outside that, in the opinion of the participant, included […]

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