Spending time in nature can reduce anxiety

Nature-based activities can improve mood and reduce anxiety, according to a new study conducted by the University of York. 

As part of the study, the researchers screened 14,321 nature-based interventions records and analysed 50 studies. 

They found that activities lasting for 20 to 90 minutes, sustained over the course of 8-12 weeks have the most positive outcomes for improving mood and reducing anxiety. 

Gardening and exercise were among the activities associated with mental health benefits. 

Lead author of the study, Dr Peter Coventry from the Department of Health Sciences, said: ‘We’ve known for some time that being in nature is good for health and wellbeing, but our study reinforces the growing evidence that doing things in nature is associated with large gains in mental health.

‘While doing these activities on your own is effective, among the studies we reviewed it seems that doing them in groups led to greater gains in mental health.’

man in black jacket and black pants standing in the middle of forest during daytime

Based on these findings, the authors argue that there is a need for substantial, sustained investment in the community and place-based solutions such as nature-based interventions, which are likely to play important role in addressing a post-pandemic surge in demand for mental health support.

‘One of the key ideas that might explain why nature-based activities are good for us is that they help to connect us with nature in meaningful ways that go beyond passively viewing nature’, Dr Coventry adds.

The research forms part of the new ‘Environment and Health’ research theme, supported by the York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI). 

In related news, researchers at University College London found that living near a woodland is good for children’s mental health.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema




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