Research conducted by the University of Essex and highlighted on MSNBC.com shows that just five minutes a day spent outdoors can improve mental health as well as increase self confidence and contribute to a sense of overall well-being.
Researchers found that as little as five minutes of a “green activity” such as walking, gardening, cycling or farming can boost mood and self esteem. Prior to the study, experts were unsure of how much time was required to make these changes in individuals. But the study revealed that just five minutes is plenty of time to have an impact on a person’s mood.
Jules Pretty and Jo Barton, researchers at the University of Essex who led this study, looked at data from 1,252 people of different ages, genders and mental health status taken from ten existing studies in Britain. They analyzed activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse riding and farming.
They found that the greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. The largest positive effect on self-esteem came from a five-minute dose of “green exercise.”
“We believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green exercise,” Barton said in a statement about the study, which was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
All natural environments were beneficial, including parks in towns or cities, they said, but green areas with water appeared to have a more positive effect.