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New Study Shows That Taking Time to Commune With Nature Reduces Stress Substantially

Most of us intuitively understand the benefits of spending some time with nature. It helps us unwind and gain perspective. In a study titled "Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers" published this week in Frontiers in Psychology researchers found that even short contacts with nature lower our stress levels significantly.

Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of the research says they found 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." She refers to these nature visits as a "nature-pill prescription."

Science Daily: "The data revealed that just a twenty-minute nature experience was enough to significantly reduce cortisol levels. But if you spent a little more time immersed in a nature experience, 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking, cortisol levels dropped at their greatest rate. After that, additional de-stressing benefits continue to add up but at a slower rate."

"Healthcare practitioners can use our results as an evidence-based rule of thumb on what to put in a nature-pill prescription," says Hunter. "It provides the first estimates of how nature experiences impact stress levels in the context of normal daily life. It breaks new ground by addressing some of the complexities of measuring an effective nature dose."

So, go to the beach, take a walk in the woods, work in your garden, take your dog to the dog park. You deserve it and it's therapeutic.


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