Spending time outdoors 'can improve mood and reduce anxiety'

·1-min read

Feeling stressed? Or perhaps a little low? A quiet stroll in nature may be the key to boosting mood and reducing anxiety.

Researchers from the University of York have reported that taking part in outdoor, nature-based activities led to improved mood, less anxiety, and positive emotions in study participants.

In particular, people who undertook activities lasting for 20 to 90 minutes, sustained for over the course of eight to 12 weeks, had the most positive outcomes.

"We've known for some time that being in nature is good for health and wellbeing, but our study reinforces the growing evidence that doing things in nature is associated with large gains in mental health," lead author Dr. Peter Coventry said. "While doing these activities on your own is effective, among the studies we reviewed it seems that doing them in groups led to greater gains in mental health."

Gardening and exercise were among the activities associated with mental health benefits. Engaging in conservation activities was also reported to make people feel better, as did forest bathing - that is, stopping in a forest to take in the atmosphere.

However, researchers found there was less evidence that outdoor activities led to improved physical health.

"One of the key ideas that might explain why nature-based activities are good for us is that they help to connect us with nature in meaningful ways that go beyond passively viewing nature," Dr. Coventry added.

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