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Just 2 Hours a Week of This Enjoyable Activity Can Improve Your Mental Health

A day lounging at the beach, hiking your local trails, or even just laying in the park, alway seems to leave you feeling more calm and relaxed, right? Well, now there is science to back that up. Spending time in “the great outdoors” is good for your mental health — and you don’t even have to be outside that long in order to reap the benefits.

A June 2019 study published in Scientific Reports found that spending just two hours per week in nature is key for promoting well-being. Researchers used data from nearly 20,000 people and discovered that folks who reported spending at least 120 minutes in nature per week were significantly more likely to report good mental health than those who didn’t get out as much.

Interestingly enough, these psychological benefits at the two-hour mark were seen across the board for men and women, older and younger adults, rich and poor people, and folks of different ethnicities. Even people with long-term illnesses benefitted from this simple act. Meanwhile, no such benefits were seen for people who didn’t stay outside long enough.

“It’s well known that getting outdoors in nature can be good for people’s health and wellbeing but until now we’ve not been able to say how much is enough,” said study author Mat White, PhD, in a press release. “The majority of nature visits in this research took place within just two miles of home so even visiting local urban greenspaces seems to be a good thing.”

And don’t think that you need to devote two hours to Mother Nature all in one sitting. According to researchers, it didn’t matter whether the participants reached that amount of time in one visit or a bunch of shorter visits. “Two hours a week is hopefully a realistic target for many people, especially given that it can be spread over an entire week to get the benefit,” said White. Furthermore, you don’t have to visit a national park or the best beach in the world, just go outside and stay outside for a bit — and you’ll feel better from the inside out!

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