By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist
A previous post examined a variety of leisure activities and mental health (1).
In this post, we look at time spent in nature and its impact on self reports of good health and well-being (2).
Who was studied? (2)
19,806 participants from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment Survey (2014/15–2015/16). (2)
What was studied? (2)
Researchers (2) looked at the relationship between time spent in nature in the last 7 days (in 60 min categories) and self-reported health (Good vs. poor) and subjective well-being (High vs. low) (2).
What were the results? (2)
- The authors (2) found that Compared to no nature contact last week, the likelihood of reporting good health or high well-being became significantly greater with contact ≥120 mins (2).
- Positive associations peaked between 200–300 mins per week with no further gain (2).
- It did not matter how 120 mins of contact a week was achieved (e.g. one long vs. several shorter visits/week). (2)
What are some caveats?
- This was a cross-sectional study design, which tells us about association, not cause and effect.
- Benefits remained even when accounting for living in a low green space area (2).
- Other research (3) indicates health benefits of walking in a forested area for ~16 minutes and viewing for ~14 minutes.
What are some examples of other healthy leisure activities (4)?
- Spending quiet time alone
- Visiting others
- Eating with others
- Doing fun things with others
- Clubs/fellowship, and religious group participation
- Communing with nature
- Playing or watching sports
- Working out or taking exercise classes
- Participating in an activities based student organization
Anything else that can help?
In addition to leisure activities, the following activities can also help with physical and emotional health, wellness, stress:
- Healthy lifestyle habits(healthy eating habits , healthy exercise, relaxation skills, healthy
sleep habits, etc.) (4)
- Avoiding harmful habits(smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol, poor or inadequate nutrition, etc) (4)
- This balance might vary from person to person.
Are there any campus resources on play?
- OSU-Rec Sports has various play options.
- Check out over 1300 different student organizations focused on different interests/hobbies
- Consider relevant courses that might also help you explore hobbies.
Could spending time in nature benefit you?
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
- White MP, Alcock I, Grellier J, et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):7730. Published 2019 Jun 13. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3.
- Park, B. J., Tsunetsugu, Y., Kasetani, T., Kagawa, T. & Miyazaki, Y. The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. Environ Health Prev 15, 18–26 (2010).
- Pressman, S. D, et. al. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being. Psychosomatic Medicine: September 2009 – Volume 71 – Issue 7 – pp 725-732 doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978Top of Form