How long does it take to get a dose of nature high enough to make people say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of well-being?
Precisely 120 minutes.
In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces, either local parks or other natural environments such as the woods, walk on the beach, were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. Two hours was a hard boundary: The study, published June of 2019, showed there were no benefits for people who didn’t meet that threshold. Also noted, was the two hours could be all at once or spaced over several visits during the week.
“It’s well-known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and well-being, but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough,” White said. “Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit.”
The studies “point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function.”
The research done by White and his colleagues is one of many in a rapidly expanding area of research that finds nature has robust effects on people’s health — physically, mentally, and emotionally.