TIME IN NATURE LOWERS STRESS: “Healthcare practitioners can use our results as an evidence-based rule of thumb on what to put in a nature-pill prescription,” stated Professor MaryCarolHunter, research lead at University of Michigan
Nature offers serious benefits to our physical and mental health, research suggests
At the University of Illinois, a recent review of hundreds of studies has found mounting “evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship”: Experiences in nature led to improvements in attention span, self-discipline and physical fitness, all while reducing stress.
At the University of Michigan, a new study led by Professor MaryCarol Hunter in collaboration with Professor Brenda Gillespie and graduate student Sophie Yu-Pu Chen shows that just 20 minutes of contact with nature will lower stress hormone levels.
“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says Hunter, lead author of this research. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.
“Healthcare practitioners can use our results as an evidence-based rule of thumb on what to put in a nature-pill prescription. It provides the first estimates of how nature experiences impact stress levels in the context of normal daily life. It breaks new ground by addressing some of the complexities of measuring an effective nature dose.
“Building personal flexibility into the experiment allowed us to identify the optimal duration of a nature pill, no matter when or where it is taken, and under the normal circumstances of modern life, with its unpredictability and hectic scheduling.
MaryCarol Hunter hopes this study will form the basis of further research in this area.
“Our experimental approach can be used as a tool to assess how age, gender, seasonality, physical ability and culture influences the effectiveness of nature experiences on well-being. This will allow customized nature pill prescriptions, as well as a deeper insight on how to design cities and wellbeing programs for the public,” she concludes.
To Learn More:
To read a story posted by the CBC that touches on both studies, download a PDF copy of Nature offers serious benefits to our physical and mental health, research suggests.
To read the complete news release for the research findings at the University of Michigan, download a PDF copy of U-M Collaboration Led by Prof. MaryCarol Hunter Shows Time in Nature Lowers Stress