Spending time in nature reaps mental health benefits - survey

Long Lunch 27/09/2018
Photo: Unsplash.

Swapping the couch for a stroll in the park could be the ticket to reducing stress and mental illness, according to a newly released survey.

A survey released by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (MHF) found that there is a strong link between time spent in nature and positive mental health.

“Any of that interaction with nature has a proven benefit for mental health and wellbeing,” said Sean Robinson, MHF chief executive.

Of the Kiwis surveyed last year, 95 percent said spending time in nature during the week made them feel good and 75 percent said they intended to spend more regular time in nature.

Mr Robinson told RadioLIVE that nature-lovers may be guarded against depression and anxiety, and show a reduction of stress levels.

Those experiencing a rough time may also have a “speeded recovery” with exposure to the outdoors.

“Human beings are creatures that are part of that natural environment and we’re hard-wired to benefit from being in it,” he said.

Getting outdoors can reap benefits for up to 7 hours. Getty.

While Mr Robinson believes the more exposure the better, he concedes even a little outdoor activity can reap massive benefits for the mind.

Indeed, earlier this year a project based on an app called Urban Mind revealed that the benefits of nature exposure can last up to seven hours after the activity, like after a walk or stint in the garden.  

The MHF survey findings were released as a reminder to get outdoors ahead of Mental Health Week, which begins on October 8. 

Listen to the full interview with Sean Robinson above.

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.