Five minutes in the green can boost self esteem

LONDON (Reuters Life) – Just five minutes of exercise  a day in the great outdoors can improve mental health, according  to a study released on Saturday, and policymakers should  encourage more people to spend time in parks and gardens.
Researchers from the University of Essex found that as  little as five minutes of a “green activity” such as walking,  gardening, cycling or farming can boost mood and self esteem.

“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,” Barton said in a statement about the study, which was  published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Many studies have shown that outdoor exercise can reduce the  risk of mental illness and improve a sense of well-being, but  Jules Pretty and Jo Barton, who led this study, said that until  now no one knew how much time needed to be spent on green  exercise for the benefits to show.

Barton and Pretty looked at data from 1,252 people of  different ages, genders and mental health status taken from 10  existing studies in Britain.    They analysed activities such as walking, gardening,  cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming.

They found that the greatest health changes occurred in the  young and the mentally ill, although people of all ages and  social groups benefited. The largest positive effect on  self-esteem came from a five-minute dose of “green exercise”.

All natural environments were beneficial, including parks in  towns or cities, they said, but green areas with water appeared  to have a more positive effect.

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