Good Health & Psychological Wellbeing

My favorite running trail.

Did you know that people who spend at least 2 hours a week in nature are substantially more likely to report good health and psychological wellbeing compared to people who didn’t get outside?

Interestingly, you can achieve the boost to your health and wellbeing in a single visit or from multiple shorter visits to a city or country park, forest, or beach. What matters is that you spend at least 120 minutes in nature per week. That’s the threshold for realizing the benefit.

These were the findings of a study conducted by Dr Tim White and colleagues at The University of Exeter. The benefits apply to women and men, younger and older adults, people across different occupational and ethnic groups, people living in richer and poorer areas, and for people living with long term illness or disability. The majority of nature visits took place less than 2 miles from participants’ homes.

2 hours is only 1.19% of the total time in a week. We can all find the time if we are intentional about it. Try putting it on the calendar. Send yourself a meeting request. Subject: Nature! Invite your family, a friend, go solo. Whatever works. Hold the time as sacred. Set an alarm reminder and get out there.

Trail running has been my saving grace through the pandemic. I notice that my mood is elevated for at least 48 hours afterwards and that my stress levels decrease. I feel re-energized in my work and am less reactive.

As we continue to work from home it seems more important than ever to get a nature boost. I’m always encouraging my coaching clients, mainly leaders working in tech, that to be effective over time they need to reboot themselves. Now there is an evidence base that prescribes 2 hours a week in nature as an effective approach to sustaining good health and psychological wellbeing.

References

White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3

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