The claim that spending time outside is good for your health isn’t exactly “breaking” scientific news, but researchers in England have recently introduced further evidence that being outdoors can boost your mental health.
The University of Essex recently conducted a study that helps further quantify the claim that spending time outside is good for you. The study pulled together 139 volunteers to participate in a variety of conservation programs like nature walks and outdoor conservation projects like building bird and bug habitats.
The study showed that 39% of the participants were essentially “bummed out” at the beginning of the study when compared to the overall well-being average in the U.K. After 12 weeks in the program, the participants were surveyed again and the level had dropped to 19%. At the end of the study, it was determined that the entire group experienced an overall improvement in wellbeing of 8 percent.
The participants reported that they felt an increased sense of positivity, mental health, a closer connection with nature and a greater drive to be active. They specifically mentioned that their favorite elements of the test were participating in conservation efforts and learning new skills. It’s worth noting that learning new skills is another proven way to boost mental health.
Obviously, spending time outside is a proven way to boost your mental health, but the challenge lies in finding green places in urban settings. The UK has developed an unfortunate trend of selling off green space to developers and many of the parks lack the necessary funds to keep up with the maintenance. Add to that the fact that public transportation isn’t the best, so actually getting out of the city and into more green spaces can be a challenge.
Kudos to the University of Essex for conducting this study because they can go a long way in influencing policy-makers, doctors and teachers when it comes to the influence of spending time in nature. It’s studies like this that can benefit both human health and conservation efforts. It’s a win-win.