“Green Space” Exercise Can Boost Mental Health

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We all know that getting out in the fresh air can ease tension and make us feel good but now according to research from the UK, spending just 5 minutes outdoors exercising in a “green space”, can improve your mental health by boosting your mood and your self esteem.

“For the first time in the scientific literature, we have been able to show dose-response relationships for the positive effects of nature on human mental health” said Professor Jules Pretty from the University of Essex and leader of the research study.

The study involved looking at information on 1,250 people from a combination of 10 different studies.

The type of exercise the researchers examined included gardening, walking, cycling, fishing, boating, farming and horse riding, which took place in a nature setting such as a garden, park or nature trail.

Ok so we already know that a spot of fresh air can blow away the cobwebs and help you feel good but there are some interesting aspects to this research.

What was particularly interesting is that this type of exercise carried out in a nature setting or “green space” appeared to have the biggest impact on younger people and those who were stressed, inactive, or suffering from a mental illness.

“Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health” said Jules Pretty.

Another researcher in the study, Dr Jo Barton, also from Essex, reckons that if people took a daily walk in the countryside it would save the health service money and help keep the doctor away.

“There is a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to ‘self -medicate’ more with green exercise” said Barton.

Other interesting findings revealed by the research were that although a longer time spent in the outdoors had positive benefits, the greatest benefit was actually seen in the first five minutes of being in the outdoors, and the most effective nature setting was somewhere near water such as a lake or a river.

The researchers claim that the study “confirms that the environment provides an important health service”.
The research has been published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal.

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2 Comments

  1. Michelangelo Raiano
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Spending time in nature and exercising have been two of the most useful and valuable tools I’ve ever used for improving mood and balancing emotions as well as helping me feel generally calmer and more optimistic in life. They are things anyone can implement by themselves, feel results straight away and of course there are no negative side-effects!

    M :)

  2. Michelangelo Raiano
    Posted January 11, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    On my website I made a list over 20 mostly free tools and techniques, available to everyone, that have helped me over the years and NEVER fail to bring me back to balance if ever I stray off track a little. Take a look and try them out for yourself… http://www.youcanbeyourself.com

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