Stressed? Taking a walk in the park even for 20 minutes can help says study


Nature is therapeutic. Scientists have proven that walking in the park for just a few minutes can lower your stress hormones in your body.

Whenever we think of a vacation, we always look for solitude. Places like mountains and beaches give us an instant rush.

For a moment just leave everything and think about snow-capped mountains, chirping birds, soft breeze ruffling your hair, the fragrance of fresh grass, and refreshing air. Oh! Calming isn’t it?

We look for a hideout in open air to rejuvenate our sense and energize our souls–as we are tired of the hustle and bustle of a metro life. But do you know why? It’s because nature has the power to heal.

In fact, a recent study suggests that being in nature significantly lowers your stress levels.

Dr. Mary Carol Hunter, an associate professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research says, “We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,”.

“Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature,” added Hunter in the study published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology.

Maybe that’s why the concept of green building is so in trend.

Nature pills could be a low-cost solution to reduce the negative health impacts stemming from growing urbanisation and indoor lifestyles dominated by screen viewing.

To assist healthcare practitioners looking for evidence-based guidelines on what exactly to dispense, Hunter and her colleagues designed an experiment that would give a realistic estimate of an effective dose.

This is how they have figured it out and you can feel it too!
Over an eight week period, participants were asked to take a nature pill with a duration of ten minutes or more, at least thrice a week. Levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, were measured from saliva samples taken before and after a nature pill, once every two weeks.

“Participants were free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place of their nature experience, which was defined as anywhere outside that in the opinion of the participant, made them feel like they’ve interacted with nature,” Hunter explained.

“Building personal flexibility into the experiment, allowed us to identify the optimal duration of a nature pill, no matter when or where it is taken.” she continued.

“We accommodated day to day differences in a participant’s stress status by collecting four snapshots of cortisol change due to a nature pill. It also allowed us to identify and account for the impact of the ongoing, natural drop in cortisol level as the day goes on, making the estimate of effective duration more reliable,” said Hunter.

The data revealed that just a 20-minute nature experience was enough to significantly reduce cortisol levels. But if you have time in hand then long walks won’t harm as well.

Technology is keeping us distant from nature. But it’s the ultimate blessing. It’s got the power! So whenever you have the time don’t shy away from taking a walk in the park and de-stress, instantly.

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