Nature Visits Linked to Less Anxiety & Depression

People who visit parks for 30 minutes or more each week are much less likely to have poor mental health than those who don’t, according to a new study.

In fact, researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) suggests people might need a minimum “dose of nature.”

According to Dr. Danielle Shanahan, parks offer health benefits, including reduced risks of developing heart disease, stress, anxiety, and depression.

“If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven percent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure,” she said. “Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at $A12.6 billion a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense.”

Associate Professor Richard Fuller added that the new study could transform the way people view urban parks.

“We’ve known for a long time that visiting parks is good for our health, but we are now beginning to establish exactly how much time we need to spend in parks to gain these benefits,” he said. “We have specific evidence that we need regular visits of at least half an hour to ensure we get these benefits.”

Children, especially, benefit from spending more time outdoors, Shanahan said.

“Kids who grow up experiencing natural environments may benefit developmentally and have a heightened environmental awareness as adults than those who don’t,” she noted.

The study was published in Nature Scientific Reports.

Source: The University of Queensland
 
Image: Enjoying nature. Credit: The University of Queensland.