Spending more than 20 minutes in the presence of nature reduces the cortisol level significantly.
Researchers believe, spending daily 20 minutes in nature by means of sitting, strolling around, or even brisk walking can reduce the stress hormones. It has been observed as a ‘natural pill’ for people living in urban areas. They also believe these nature pills can be effective in reducing stress levels and overall negative health impacts taking place due to indoor lifestyle and growing urbanization. Dr. Mary Carol Hunter who is lead author of this research, working as Assistant Professor in the University of Michigan 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”.
To test this, participants were asked to take the nature pill with a duration of 10 minutes or more for at least 3 times a week over the 8-week period. The research team collected saliva samples before and after the pill to measure stress hormones, levels of cortisol, etc. During this test, the participants were free to choose any place and duration of the day. However, it was crucial that they feel interacted with nature for the given time.
At the end of the 8-week period, that data showed that only 20-minute nature experience was sufficient to reduce cortisol levels. Moreover, if a person spends 20-30 minutes brisk walking for in nature, it will reduce the cortisol level significantly. In fact, after that, additional de-stressing benefits continue to add at a slower rate. The scientists believe this research can be used to evaluate how age, gender, cultural influence, seasons and physical ability affect the de-stressing. Moreover, scientists can customize the nature pill accordingly.
Edwin Santos was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He has contributed to Discovery Magazine, Details and the Huffington Post. Edwin has also served as a commentator for NPR and MSNBC. As a journalist for Oak Tribune, Edwin mostly covers national news. Aside from earning a living as a freelance journalist, Edwin also works as photographer.