Spending Just 20 Minutes in a Park Makes You Happier. Here's What Else Being Outside Can Do for Your Health

Sourced from Time

Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is one of the fastest ways to improve your health and happiness. It’s been shown to lower stress, blood pressure and heart rate, while encouraging physical activity and buoying mood and mental health. Some research even suggests that green space is associated with a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders — all findings that doctors are increasingly taking seriously and relaying to their patients.

Now, a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research adds to the evidence and shows just how little time it takes to get the benefits of being outside. Spending just 20 minutes in a park — even if you don’t exercise while you’re there — is enough to improve well-being, according to the research.

For the study, researchers surveyed 94 adults who visited one of three urban parks near Birmingham over the summer and fall. They were given fitness trackers to measure physical activity but were not told what to do in the park or how long to stay. Each person also answered questions about their life satisfaction and mood — which were used to calculate a subjective well-being score, with a maximum value of 55 — before and after their park visit.

The average park visit lasted 32 minutes, and 30% of people engaged in at least moderate-intensity physical activity while there. Well-being scores rose during the park visit in 60% of people, with an average increase of about 1.5 points (from about 37 to 39).

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