feeling stressed, spending some time in nature might help,
according to a new report.
from the University of Michigan recently conducted a study,
published in Frontiers in Psychology, to determine the
association between nature and stress hormone levels.
assessment, they asked a group of adults to take “nature
pills,” or to spend some time either sitting or walking in
nature. They were required to spend 10 minutes or more in
nature at least three times a week for an eight-month period.
Once every two
weeks, the scientists measured the participants’ levels of
cortisol, a stress hormone, using saliva samples taken before
and after a nature pill.
were free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place
of their nature experience, which was defined as anywhere
outside that in the opinion of the participant, made them feel
like they’ve interacted with nature,” lead author
MaryCarol Hunter explained in a statement. “There were a few
constraints to minimize factors known to influence stress:
take the nature pill in daylight, no aerobic exercise, and
avoid the use of social media, internet, phone calls,
conversations and reading.”
In addition to
accommodating the subjects’ busy lifestyles, the team also
factored in the natural drop in cortisol levels that can occur
naturally throughout the day.
the results, they found having a 20-minute nature experience
reduced cortisol levels. In fact, those who spent 20 to 30
minutes sitting or walking outside had the greatest decrease
of cortisol levels.
shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently
lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should
spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that
provides you with a sense of nature,” Hunter said.
The team said
their findings provide the first estimates of how nature can
impact our daily lives, and they hope healthcare providers
take advantage of the evidence.
experimental approach can be used as a tool to assess how age,
gender, seasonality, physical ability and culture influences
the effectiveness of nature experiences on well-being,”
Hunter said. “This will allow customized nature pill
prescriptions, as well as a deeper insight on how to design
cities and wellbeing programs for the public.”
Want to learn
more about the study? Take a look at the full report here