Nature Against Depression? Science Says Yes

Today we have an amazing variety of entertainment right at our fingertips. We have large screen TVs with thousands of channels to watch in our air-conditioned living room. And if there’s nothing good on TV, we can always turn to the internet. We spend an increasing amount of time inside, we hardly ever go out of the house – and even then, our longest walk is to the driveway. We hardly ever spend time in nature – and ignore one of the best natural antidepressants at hand.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature acts like a natural antidepressant, a new study conducted by The University of Queensland (UQ) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) shows. And it doesn’t even have to bee a weekend spent in the woods.

A walk in the park will do just fine. The researchers from Australia and the UK have even come up with the minimum “dose” of nature we need: 30 minutes a week. Spending this much among the trees, with fresh air and some sunshine around you, will reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and even blood pressure. And it will lower your risk for heart disease, too.

30 minutes in nature

The researchers from Australia and the UK have even come up with the minimum “dose” of nature we need: 30 minutes. Spending this much time among the trees, grass, fresh air, and in the sunshine will reduce anxiety, depression, stress, and even blood pressure. And it will lower your risk for heart disease, too.

Depression is a widespread condition

Depression is a condition that’s more widespread than you might think. According to the WHO, about 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide. Depression is the leading cause of disability and is a considerable burden for the system. Spending time in nature can reduce it considerably, UQ CEED researcher Dr. Danielle Shanahan said, and it won’t cost you (or the system) a dime.

If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine percent fewer cases of high blood pressure. Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at $A12.6 billion a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense.

Spending time in nature benefits kids the most

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Spending time in nature is even more important for your kids. Their exposure to the great outdoors not only keeps them healthier but benefits their development, too. “Our children especially benefit from spending more time outdoors,” Dr. Shanahan said. “Kids who grow up experiencing natural environments may benefit developmentally and have a heightened environmental awareness as adults than those who don’t.”

Istvan Liptak

Istvan is a self-made health and fitness enthusiast, as well as an amateur cook with a professional diploma. He only practices cooking at home, but this doesn't break his enthusiasm for healthy eating.

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