- Regular walk could cut levels of stress hormone, cortisol, by about 10 per cent
- Research project was led by Dr MaryCarol Hunter, of the University of Michigan
- She said: ‘Getting out of an office block and sitting next to a tree can be enough’
A daily 20-minute stroll in the great outdoors has been found to dramatically lower stress levels and boost wellbeing.
Scientists claim to have discovered that spending between 20-30 minutes amongst nature could cut levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, by about 10 per cent.
The new study found that after 30 minutes the wellbeing benefits of being outside continued to increase but at sharply reduced rate, the Times reported.
Dr Mary Carol Hunter, of the University of Michigan, and who led the re-search said: ‘Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of ef-ficiently 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.
‘You don’t have to travel to the wildlands. Getting out of an office block and sitting next to a tree can be enough’.
Dr Hunter believes the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psy-chology, should lead to the prescription of ‘nature-pills’ – advice by doc-tors that patients suffering with anxiety should be spend time in a green space.
Spending time connected to nature has previously been suggested as a low-cost way of combating health issues including high-blood pressure and mental health problems.
Little work has been conducted on the exact levels of exposure needed to have a significant impact on wellbeing.
Social prescribing – non-medical treatments that yield health benefits – are a central part of the NHS long term plan launched by Theresa May and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens in January.
More than 2.5 million people are expected to benefit from social pre-scribing over the next five years, according to the plan, which pledges to employ an army of over 1000 trained workers to help patients live healthier lives.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he wants to see ‘the balance shifted’ from drugs to social activities to improve the country’s health.
He said yesterday that dementia patients should be offered music and dance therapies to manage their condition.h