Just 20 minutes of contact with nature can significantly reduce stress
A 20-minute walk in the park or just being in the park will significantly lower stress hormone levels, according to new research. Researchers determined the optimal dose of contact with nature for busy and time-poor people living in urban areas.
– We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it has been unclear how much time we need to spend doing it, how often we need to do it, and what kind of contact with nature will benefit us the most, said Dr. MaryCarol Hunter of the University of Michigan, head of theown author of the study. – Our study shows that to get the greatest benefit in terms of effectively lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, one should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place thatorym feel contact with nature – she added.
As the authors argue, this study established for the first time, the most effective dose of urban contact with nature. The scientists add that their analysis can be used by health professionals to recommend that patients spend time in nature, as it has a real effect of.
Stress reduction through contact with nature is fairly well documented, but until now there has been no information on the parameter ofow of this contact – the duration or frequency of it. Research by scientistsow from the University of Michigan describe the relationship between duration of nature experience and changes in dwoch physiological biomarkers of stress – cortisol and alpha-amylase.
Spending time in nature can be a low-cost solution to reducing the negative health impacts of increasing urbanization, where life is mainlyoindoors and is dominated by looking at rotion screens – TV, computer, smartphone. To helpoc doctors looking for evidence-based guidelines on exactly what to recommend, Hunter and her cooThe researchers designed an experiment thatory would give a realistic assessment of an effective dose of nature contact.
In a study thatore conducted for 8 weeks, 36 residents participatedoin cities. They were asked to spend time outdoors in such a way, whichore would give them a sense of contact with nature. They were to do it at least three times a week for 10 minutes or more.
Participants were taken every two weeks probki saliva before and after mandated spending time in nature. Probki taken before contact with nature determined the stress index and were consistent with published results from more controlled experimentsow.
– Participants were free to choose the time of day, duration and location of their nature experience. To reduce the factors about whichoknown to cause stress, respondents were asked to spend time outdoors during the day, avoid using medioin social networks, the Internet, conversationoin phone calls and reading,” explains Hunter.
The scientist admitted that such parameters of the experiment allowed them to identify the optimal duration of contact with nature. – We adjusted roThe differences in the study participant’s stress levels, taking four measurementsoIn changes in cortisol levels due to contact with nature. It allowed us to roalso identify and explain the effect of a natural decline in cortisol levels as the day progressed, making estimates of effective time spent in nature more reliable – explained Hunter.
Research has shown that just 20 minutes of contact with nature can significantly lower cortisol levels. However, 10 minutes more spent in nature reduced cortisol levels the most. Even longer contact with nature brings further decreases in cortisol, but already at a slower rate.
Hunter hopes this study will form the basis for further research in this area. – Our experimental approach can be used as a tool to assess the impact of age, gender, changes in por of the year or physical fitness on the effectiveness of experiments with nature to maintain well-being – emphasized Hunter.