We know being around nature, even for short periods time, boosts health and mental wellbeing, not to mention resulting in a more relaxed state-of-mind and sense of self-worth.
Recent research in the UK has quantified the amount of time needed to attain a natural nirvana, though, if the research — conducted by the University of Exeter Medical School in Devon, England, and based on a sample of 20,000 adults from all walks of life — is to be believed.
That number, researchers say, is two hours a week.
If the figure holds up to peer review — and further studies — a two-hour-dose-of-nature-a-week may soon join five-fruits-and-vegetables-a-day and 150-minutes-of-exercise-a-week as the signposts to a good, healthy life.
With talk of the growing climate crisis and ever-higher levels of pollution all around us, accentuating the positive, even if it will strike some as being obvious, may be a better path to environmental awareness.
The numbers show being around nature, even something as simple as a walk in the park, has an immersive effect.
The research also showed, for example, that thosewho spend little to no time in nature lead generally unhappier lives, based on their measure of life satisfaction — a standard measure of wellbeing.
Again, this may sound obvious. People who are less active are less likely to venture outdoors, which in turn is reflected by poor health and self-esteem.
What surprised the researchers most, however, as study author Dr. Matthew White told The Guardian newspaper, is that the survey results were true for every group they studied: wealthy or poor, young or old, rural or urban, fit and healthy or facing long-term illnesses and disabilities.
“Getting out in nature seemed to be good for just about everybody,” White said.
It doesn’t have to be physical exercise, either. “It could be just sitting on a bench,” White said.
In other words, it’s not doing something that matters but rather just been surrounded by something.
That’s as good a selling point for a green, healthy, environment — not to mention stable climate — as any argument you’re likely to hear all week.