The Simplest Way To Recharge During Your Time Off, According To 100+ Studies

The results come from 140 studies on 290 million people.

The results come from 140 studies on 290 million people.

Spending time outside in green spaces reduces stress, improves sleep and has a host of health benefits, research finds.

On top of the psychological benefits, over one hundred studies have linked being closer to nature to health benefits like lower risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.

Ms Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, the study’s first author, said:

“Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood.

We gathered evidence from over 140 studies involving more than 290 million people to see whether nature really does provide a health boost.”

Ms Twohig-Bennett explained the study’s results:

“We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits.

It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration.

People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol — a physiological marker of stress.”

The Japanese have long enjoyed ‘Shinrin yoku,’ or the practice of ‘forest bathing‘.

Ms Twohig-Bennett said:

“Forest bathing is already really popular as a therapy in Japan — with participants spending time in the forest either sitting or lying down, or just walking around.

Our study shows that perhaps they have the right idea!”

It’s not clear exactly what causes the benefits, but Ms Twohig-Bennett speculates:

“People living near greenspace likely have more opportunities for physical activity and socialising.

Meanwhile, exposure to a diverse variety of bacteria present in natural areas may also have benefits for the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Much of the research from Japan suggests that phytoncides — organic compounds with antibacterial properties — released by trees could explain the health-boosting properties of forest bathing.”

The study was published in the journal Environmental Research (Twohig-Bennett & Jones, 2018).

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Hello, and welcome to PsyBlog. Thanks for dropping by.

This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.