14 May 2010
Just a 5-minute sojourn in a ‘green space’ can do wonders for your mental health, BBC News reports.
A UK meta-analysis* of 10 studies involving 1250 participants found as little as 5 minutes of outdoors exercise in a park or garden had the maximum improvement on mood and self-esteem, particularly in the young and the mentally ill. While exercising for longer than 5 minutes in a ‘green space’ also had positive effects, the benefits were of a smaller magnitude.
The study assessed the impact of outdoor activities including walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming on mood, and found exercising near water had the maximum effect.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of the UK mental health charity, Mind, said a short period of exercise in ‘green space’ provided a low-cost therapy to improve mental health.
“It is important that people experiencing depression can be given the option of a range of treatments, and we would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate,” he said.
*A meta-analysis is a statistical technique that summarises the results of other studies.
Last Reviewed: 14 May 2010