A two-hour dose of nature each week could make you happier and healthier

If you’re feeling stressed and want to take advantage of the health benefits of spending time in nature—which studies say can reduce depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, cut the risk of other diseases, and boost creativity and cognitive abilities—you might want to aim for two hours outside a week. A new study looked at data from a U.K. government survey that asked nearly 20,000 people in the U.K. to track their activities for a week. Those who spent two hours in nature, whether that happened in one trip or several smaller visits to a park, were significantly more likely to report better health and well-being than those who spent less time outside. After about 200-300 total minutes outside, the effect peaked. It’s one of the first studies to try to quantify exactly how much time people should spend outside. The researchers, based at University of Exeter Medical School, saw that doctors were beginning to get questions from patients about the benefits of exposure to nature. “They’re coming to us and saying ‘Doctor, how long do I have to spend?’” says Mathew White, an environmental psychologist and senior lecturer at the university and lead author of the study. “And […]

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