Five Minutes of Green Exercise Helps Maintain Good Mental Health

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Going green isn’t just for our external environment; it helps our emotional environment as well. A new study new by the University of Essexstates discovers that "green exercise" produces the greatest improvement in mood and sense of personal well-being. Better news is that the study suggests you only require five minutes of green exercise to feel the benefits.

* The Magic Drug for Depression and Anxiety? Exercise

In todays world where time is limited and stress is high, researchers have concluded that five minutes of walking in the park, jogging a country trail or doing a few minutes of gardening can benefit mental health.

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Researchers Jules Pretty and Jo Barton state that green exercise is physical activity in the presence of nature. "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," Pretty said.

The researchers took data from 1,252 people (of different ages, genders and mental health status) drawn from ten existing studies in the United Kingdom, the authors were able to show that activity in the presence of nature led to mental and physical health improvements.

Researchers then analyzed activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming. They then noted that the greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally-ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. All natural environments were beneficial including parks in urban settings. Green areas with water added something extra. A blue and green environment seems even better for health, Pretty noted.

From a health policy perspective, the largest positive effect on self-esteem came from a five-minute dose. "We know from the literature that short-term mental health improvements are protective of long-term health benefits," Pretty said. "So 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," added Barton.

Remember that May is National Mental Health Awareness month and that green exercise not only connects people to nature and is very cost-effective, it really does improve mental health and a sense of wellbeing.

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