Most of us have grown up hearing things like “a little sunshine will do you good,” but have you ever stopped to think about the validity of the statement? Well, according to science, there’s actually quite a bit of truth to the statement. In fact, many governments around the world are now investing in infrastructure that promotes health through spending time in nature.
For example, Japan has adopted something they call “Forest Therapy,” which consists of marked nature trails that are for the sole purpose of improving health. They call the concept shinrin-yoku, which translates to “forest bathing.”
Studies have shown that spending time in nature can reduce the effects of many illnesses, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes. It’s also believed to reduce the likelihood of premature death, stress, and preterm births.
Ultimately, spending time in nature makes you happier.
Strangely enough, though, the medical community doesn’t exactly push spending time in nature. Visit your doctor and there’s a good chance you’ll get the standard “eat less salt, drink more water, exercise more, etc.” talk, but rarely will a doctor focus on spending time in nature as part of a treatment plan.
A new study from the University of Exeter might help change that. The study actually assigned cold, hard numbers to the amount of time spent outside and the corresponding health benefits associated with that time.
According to their research, if an individual can spend a minimum of two hours in nature per week, their overall physical and mental health will be better than those who don’t get outside. It’s interesting to note that 2 hours is truly the magical number here—participants in the study who spent less than two hours around nature showed no substantial health benefits.
The study was conducted with the participation of almost 20,000 people and the participants came from many different occupations, ethnic backgrounds, income levels, and also represented both genders. The findings showed that none of these demographics mattered in terms of the benefits.
In short, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what you do, or how much money you make, getting outside for at least a couple of hours each week is good for you!