June 23, 2019
The benefits of getting two to three hours a week of outdoors time is said to be comparable to meeting the recommended amounts of exercise or living in a high socioeconomic area versus a low-status one.
It’s been established that people who spend more time in parks and other natural settings tend to report higher levels of health and happiness, but new research shows there’s actually a magic number for it.
According to a study published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, spending 120 minutes a week strolling a tree-lined street or sitting by a lake can greatly enhance a person’s overall sense of well-being. Less time didn’t yield any significant benefit, the research showed.
Those who got in two to three hours in nature were about 20% more likely to report high overall satisfaction with their lives than those who spent no time outdoors at all. The benefits to physical health were even greater, with those who met the outdoors benchmark being 60% more likely to report being in good health than their cooped-in counterparts.
The figures were adjusted for a number of characteristics known to influence health and happiness, including socioeconomic factors, neighborhood characteristics and general demographics.
Overall, they found, two hours or more of nature exposure had a significant impact: Its positive effect on an individual’s health and well-being was comparable to getting recommended amounts of exercise or of living in a high socioeconomic status area versus a low-status one.
They stress, however, that the effect is not necessarily a causal one. Though researchers controlled for a wide range of variables known to affect health and happiness, the study’s design didn’t allow them to completely rule out other factors that could result in higher health and happiness for nature lovers.
Aim to get at least two hours a week of outdoor time, just as if it were exercise. Whatever place you can find where you can see nature.
Maybe a nearby park, a street full of trees or even a garden.
It may be the case, for instance, that people who are more inclined to be physically active and have a positive outlook on life are more likely to seek recreation opportunities outdoors. It may also be the case that being outside in nature, which typically involves a lot of moving around, may serve as a proxy for physical activity overall.
However, the authors note that other studies have demonstrated the benefits of being outside even in the absence of physical activity. Research in Japan, for instance, found that simply sitting passively in a natural environment can confer benefits to physical and mental health. Other research has shown that exercising outdoors provides a boost to mental health above and beyond what you’d get from doing the same exercise inside.
Being in nature exposes you to forces that you can’t find in
concrete tombs modern cities. The grass, the trees, the birds and the bees are not the only things that are alive outside. There is another world there — an old world, much older than our memory and much wiser than ourselves. This world is closer to Time itself, and you can feel its ancient forces interacting with you when you relax under a tree, when the sunlight meets your skin and when the wind caresses your face.
You can hear the whispers of life orchestrating a message of hope out there, telling you about the battles between Order and Chaos, their war and the balance encompassing struggle.
Inside the harmonic appearance of nature, you find life fighting to live. From things that are too small for the naked eye to see, to plants, insects and small animals. They’re all fighting, and they’re still here. They still exist and they still fight.
To exist is to fight.
Open your eyes in nature and you’ll see the champions of life, the ones who are still in the game, the ones who have never been truly defeated. Everything you see outside, every bug, every flower, every tree and every bird that flies is there because it fought to be there and its ancestors fought to be there. Their presence is a link to the ones that came before them.
In the grand scheme of things, these are the unconquered ones.
When you are outside, they remind you that you are one of them. That you are still here in the fight and that your people are still here, with you, struggling. Remembering your nature and identity empowers you. Nature empowers you.
When you are outside, remember that you are part of the beauty you see.
Accept your place in Creation and the forest will befriend you.
These ancient forces of nature want to flow through you and strengthen you.
You just have to let them.