Surprising Benefits of Spending Two Hours Weekly in Nature

Spending time in nature is great for our health, says Rachel Stancliffe from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. After about two hours outdoors, the benefits start to level off, with no big extra boost after five hours. This might be because some people, like dog walkers, spend more time in nature out of necessity.

Researchers made sure the health benefits weren’t just from being active. Just two hours in nature can make a big difference in health, similar to living in a wealthy area compared to a poorer one.

And it’s not just for certain people – it works for everyone, young or old, sick or healthy.  Even sitting on a bench outside can help.

How Much Time In Nature Do You Need?

In a new study, researchers asked over 19,000 people how much time they spent outside in nature last week and how they felt. They found that spending at least 2 hours a week in nature boosted both mental and physical health, similar to exercising regularly.

Even short walks near home were as good as longer hikes in parks. This is just the beginning of understanding how much time in nature is best for us each week.

Other studies show that even a few minutes outside can make us feel better. After spending time in nature, even stressed-out adults start laughing and having fun after just an hour outside, feeling like kids again.

Health Benefits Beyond Physical Activity

Being in nature is good for us in different ways. You might think it’s because we move around more outside, but being still in nature, like the Japanese practice of “forest bathing,” can also make us feel better. Nature gives us a break from focusing too much on work or screens, which can tire our brains.

But to feel these benefits, it’s important to put away distractions like phones and pay attention to nature, whether looking at a beautiful view or standing by a tree.

Mindfulness expert Moutenot-Small suggests that if we approach nature with awareness, like taking deep breaths and being present with a tree, we’ll feel even better.

There is a simple reason why being in nature feels so good: humans and our ancestors have spent millions of years outdoors. Being inside or on screen is a new thing for us.

Here are some benefits of spending time in nature:

  1. Feeling more relaxed
  2. Improving our ability to focus and pay attention.
  3. Easing feelings of anxiety and depression.
  4. Boosting levels of endorphins and dopamine, which make us happier
  5. Lowering blood pressure and reducing cortisol, which is a stress hormone

Getting the Most Out Of Your Time in Nature

  • Spending at least 2 hours a week in nature can make you healthier and happier.
  • Even if you’re busy with school, work, or other things, it’s worth making time for nature.
  • Choose a place where you feel safe and relaxed. Take deep breaths and listen to the sounds around you to enjoy nature fully.
  • Exercising outdoors is also great for mental health, reducing the risk of problems like stress and anxiety by half.

What’s The Connection Between Nature And Feeling Good?

While previous studies had found some ways nature connects with us, the new research found 10 more. These include:

  • Cohesive: Making meaningful friendships by spending time in nature.
  • Formative: Feeling different in mood, attitude, or behavior after being in nature.
  • Satisfactive: Feeling happy because your needs are met by being in nature.
  • Transcendent: Feeling spiritually fulfilled after spending time in nature.