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A Dose Of Nature For Improved Mental Health

A Dose Of Nature For Improved Mental Health
New study suggests people might need a minimum “dose of nature”

Think back to a time you were upset and went for a walk in the woods, or along the beach, or at a park.  Maybe when you started the walk you didn't notice the smell of the leaves, the wind blowing your hair, the sounds of birds. But as you walk you breath a bit deeper, you suddenly notice a cute little bird right in front of you.  Whatever had been bothering you doesn't seem as pressing and you are suddenly aware of the beauty surrounding you..Perhaps it's the walking itself, as we know exercise is linked to improved mood.   Than again indoors you don't have sunlight hitting your skin which helps you produce vitamin D.  Low levels of vitamin D are linked to depression.  Could it be something primal about just being in nature, even being barefoot and feeling grass, sand or dirt under your feet as they talk about in ayurveda?  Literally stopping to smell the roses, getting back in touch with nature in a relaxing way (unlike being a reality TV survivalist contestant on Naked and Afraid). 

Regardless you'll want to get you and your family up and walking in nature at least for 30 minutes based on a new study led by the University of Queensland (UQ) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) who suggest people might need a minimum “dose of nature”.

A Dose Of Nature For Improved Mental Health

People who visit parks for 30 minutes or more each week are much less likely to have high blood pressure or poor mental health than those who don’t, according to new research by Australian and UK environmental scientists.  In addition those who visited more frequently had greater social cohesion.
UQ CEED researcher Dr Danielle Shanahan said parks offered health benefits including reduced risks of developing heart disease, stress, anxiety and depression.  “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,” she said.

UQ CEED researcher Associate Professor Richard Fuller said the research could transform the way people viewed urban parks. “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,” he said.  “We have specific evidence that we need regular visits of at least half an hour to ensure we get these benefits. 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.”

A Dose Of Nature For Improved Mental Health

The research is published in Nature Scientific Reports. The research team included scientists from UQ’s School of Public Health, the University of Exeter, and CSIRO Land and Water.



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