A Little Bit of Nature Goes A Long Way

Everyone knows that spending time in the greater outdoors is good for your mental and physical health, so long as you slather on SPF 30. But new research has found that as little as 10 minutes outside, two or three times per week, produces a psychological boost. And the best news yet, you donít have to walk in a park or stroll along a beach. Even a few minutes in your backyard or a bit of urban green space can have the same restorative power.

The research, supported by the TKF Foundation, was conducted by Mary Carol Hunter of the University of Michigan and Dr. Marc Berman of the University of Chicago and was recently presented at the American Society of Landscape Architects annual meeting. Hunterís research was published in Frontiers in Psychology and Bermanís in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. The TKF Foundation, which funds publicly accessible urban green space, has awarded grants to six projects across the country that look at the health benefits of green spaces.

Hunterís study asked subjects to cavort in nature at least 2.5 times a week for no less than 10 minutes and to answer questions about their mental well-being before and after their time outdoors. Answers were captured on a mobile app and were correlated with subjectsí saliva cortisol levels, which is a good measure of stress.

Results showed that participants felt significantly less stress, more focus, increased energy and better moods in just 10 minutes outside. The benefits were greater in small parks and residential landscapes, the study showed.

Bermanís study asked subjects to walk 2.5 miles in 50 minutes through either an urban environment or an arboretum. After the walk, they took memory tests to measure concentration and focus. The results showed that the arboretum strollers had a 20 percent improvement in working memory over the city street group.

Here are more reasons to spend time outdoors.

  • Air pollution of some contaminants, like carbon monoxide, is worse indoors than outdoors.
  • Looking at trees and flowers is better for your eyes than staring at a computer screen, which can cause dry eye syndrome in adults.
  • 30 to 60 minutes a day exposure to direct sunlight helps regulate your natural sleep patterns.
  • Studies show that walking in the woods boosts your immune system even a month after your stroll in nature.

Think you’re too busy to commune with nature? Here are ways to spend more times outdoors.

1. When shopping, park your car in the farthest spot in the lot, which will increase your time outdoors and add to your daily step count.

2. Walk your dog, don’t just let him out the back door.

3. Read outdoors. If it’s cold, bundle up in a shawl or blanket.

4. Start a patio garden; even just watering outdoor plants gives you time in nature.

5. Put on outdoor clothes as soon as you come home from work. If you don sneakers, the walks outside will come.

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Clare O
Clare O11 months ago


Clare O
Clare O11 months ago

good for you

Sheila S
Sheila S2 years ago

Ever since my cat passed away, I've been feeding birds and squirrels instead of having another indoor companion. It brightens my day!

Ann M
Ann M2 years ago

I thought I would be able to read outside on the deck, then the housing market caught up with me! Now there is so much noise from neighbors' music boxes, I must retreat indoors. However, I did find one nearby national park where music is prohibited!

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sen Heijkamp
Sayenne H3 years ago


Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Worth treasuring without doubt

Deborah W.
Deborah W3 years ago

DAMN GOOD THING ... at the rate we're killing it.

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Virtu Velazquez
Virtu V3 years ago

Here there is another huge webpage for collecting signatures:
And this is a petition created to solve the huge problem of forest fire in Spain: