Spending 20 Minutes in Nature May Help Reduce Stress
Previous research has found that spending time outdoors may help relieve stress, improve depression, and enhance mental wellbeing. A new study sought to determine how much exposure to nature is needed to reap these benefits, and found that just 20 minutes per day spent in nature could significantly reduce stress.
Participants in the study included 36 urban dwellers. They were instructed to take a nature experience with a duration of 10 minutes or more at least three times per week. A nature experience was defined as spending time in an outdoor place that brought a sense of contact with nature. Participants gave saliva samples before and after a nature experience at four points during the study. The researchers measured levels of salivary cortisol and alpha amylase, two markers of stress.
The researchers found that a nature experience resulted in a 21.3%/hour drop in salivary cortisol levels. Alpha amylase levels dropped 28.1%/hour following a nature experience. The greatests results were seen after a nature experience of 20 to 30 minutes. Benefits continued to accrue after 30 minutes, but at a reduced rate.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan. It was published on April 4, 2019 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.