30 minutes in nature could reduce risk of heart disease & poor mental health

People who spend more time in Nature are much less likely to have poor mental health and high blood pressure than those who don’t, according to research by Australian and UK environmental scientists.

Visiting parks for 30 minutes or more each week reduces the risk of heart disease, stress, anxiety, and depression.

A study led by The University of Queensland (UQ) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) suggests people might need a minimum “dose of nature”.Dr. Danielle Shanahan said nature parks offered health benefits including reduced risks of developing heart disease, stress, anxiety, and depression.

According to the Researcher, DR. Danielle Shanahan “If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure. Our children especially benefit from spending more time outdoors. Kids who grow up experiencing natural environments may benefit developmentally and have a heightened environmental awareness as adults than those who don’t.”

Interactions with nature simultaneously deliver mental, physical and social health outcomes for a population through multiple pathways

By harnessing the synergistic potential of these pathways, contact with nature has the potential to lower not just the prevalence of single chronic conditions, but also multiple chronic or acute medical conditions that co-occur within one person.

“We’ve known for a long time that visiting parks is good for our health, but we are now beginning to establish exactly how much time we need to spend in parks to gain these benefits. We have specific evidence that we need regular visits of at least half an hour to ensure we get these benefits.”

UQ CEED research Associate Professor Richard Fuller said the research could transform the way people viewed urban parks.

The research is published in Nature Scientific Reports.

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