The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Five minutes of exercising in nature improves mental health

walking on sunshine
Image by bunz234 via Flickr

One of my major complaints about psychiatric units now is the lack of opportunity most psychiatric patients have to get out of doors and get both fresh air and sunshine.  With length of stay becoming shorter and shorter, this may not really even be an issue anymore, but I have always believed that my grandmother was right when she would send us outside to “get some fresh air and sunshine!”

Now with the current research on Vitamin D deficiencies and with research on the effect of “green space” on the psyche, I am hoping that all patients will be offered a way to sit outside to take a dose of health daily.

The article below talks about just such research and states a conclusion that even a short opportunity to be outside can have beneficial results.  Please read the article and then let me know what you think about this.

Jeremy Hance
May 05, 2010

Recent studies in psychology have shown that spending time or exercising in natural settings—even urban parks and gardens—have benefits for one’s mental health and sense of wellbeing. But a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology pushes our understanding of the link between nature and health even further, finding that only five minutes of exercising in a ‘green space’ will provide one with both mental and physical benefits.

“For the first time in the scientific literature, we have been able to show dose-response relationships for the positive effects of nature on human mental health,” co-author Jules Pretty said in a press release.

The study found that just a five-minute ‘dose’ of exercising in nature provided the biggest boost in people’s self esteem.

Analyzing over twelve-hundred people from ten studies in the UK, the authors were able to show that a myriad of activities, including walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and even farming, in natural settings helped people’s mental health. While the study found that all ages benefited from the ‘green exercise’, the greatest changes were seen in young subjects and subjects who already suffered from mental-illness.

The study further found that being active in green species with water provided additional improvements in people’s mental health.

“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,” says co-author Jo Barton.

Pretty added that the economic benefit of a wide policy initiative encouraging exercise in natural settings could prove substantial.

A previous study has shown that walking in green environments significantly improved the concentration-abilities of children with ADHD, and in some cases was even more effective than medication.

Here’s the link to this article and many others similar to it.

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May 7, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , ,

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Shirley Williams, Shirley Williams. Shirley Williams said: Five minutes of exercising in nature improves mental health : […]

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