exercise' can boost mental health
Article page | Family topics |
minutes of exercise in a park, working in a backyard garden, on a nature trail,
or other green space can boost mood and self-esteem, according to a new study.
The study has been published in the American Chemical Society’s semi-monthly
journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Jules Pretty and Jo Barton explain in the study that green exercise is physical
activity in the presence of nature. Abundant scientific evidence shows that
activity in natural areas decreases the risk of mental illness and improves the
sense of well-being. Until now, however, nobody knew how much time people had to
spend in green spaces to get those and other benefits.
"For the first time in the scientific literature, we have been able to show
dose-response relationships for the positive effects of nature on human mental
health," Pretty said.
From an analysis of 1,252 people (of different ages, genders and mental health
status) drawn from ten existing studies in the United Kingdom, the authors were
able to show that activity in the presence of nature led to mental and physical
They analyzed activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating,
horse-riding and farming. The greatest health changes occurred in the young and
the mentally-ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. All
natural environments were beneficial including parks in urban settings. Green
areas with water added something extra. A blue and green environment seems even
better for health, Pretty noted.
From a health policy perspective, the largest positive effect on self-esteem
came from a five-minute dose.
"We know from the literature that short-term mental health improvements are
protective of long-term health benefits," Pretty said. "So we believe that there
would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of
the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green
exercise," added Barton.
- ANI / Times of India