Spending at least 120 minutes a week in natural environments is associated with good health and wellbeing, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.
Mathew White and colleagues surveyed 19,806 adults in England on how much time they had spent over the past week in natural environments, such as fields and woodlands (but not including their own garden), and their self-reported health and wellbeing. They show that people who reported spending 120 minutes or more in nature were more likely to report good health or high levels of wellbeing.
The authors found this association was independent of the size of the available green space in their local neighbourhood. The relationship was also seen in participants of all ages, including those with long-term health issues, which may suggest that the findings were not simply due to healthier people visiting nature more often. It did not matter if the 120 minutes were spent in nature on one occasion or several shorter visits throughout the week, the authors report. Spending under 120 minutes a week in nature was not associated with improved wellbeing, while spending between 200 - 300 minutes in natural environments showed no additional benefit.
The authors conclude that, although preliminary, the findings represent an important starting point for discussions around providing simple, evidence-based recommendations about the amount of time spent in natural settings that could result in meaningful promotion of health and wellbeing.