Here’s how much time you need to spend outside each week to boost your health and wellbeing, according to science

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Lauren Geall
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Why walking is just as effective as running

New research suggests spending two hours a week in nature could benefit all of us.

It’s no secret that we’re all a little bit obsessed with plants right now.

From the cheese plant to the faithful cactus, more and more of us are filling our living spaces with all the greenery we can get our hands on.

And while looking after plants can do wonders for our wellbeing, nothing beats getting out in nature and surrounding yourself with the real thing – according to science, spending just two hours outside in nature per week can boost your health and wellbeing.

New research from the University of Exeter Medical School shows that spending over two hours in nature a week – whether that be sitting on a bench at your local park or taking a hike in the countryside – can help us to feel healthier in both body and spirit.  

Woman walking in a field
Spending just two hours outside each week could boost our health and wellbeing. 

And those results rang true for people from a number of different backgrounds – participants in the study reported benefits no matter what their age, gender, ethnicity or socio-economic background. People with long-term illnesses or disabilities also reported a boost when they spent their recommended two hours in nature.

Interestingly, the study also found that living in an area surrounded by green space didn’t necessarily mean the benefits translated – to receive that all-important boost to your health and wellbeing, you need to have “direct exposure” to nature, the study suggests. 

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So, how can you get your two hours a week? While at first that number may seem a big chunk of time to set aside each week, eating your lunch in a park could be a great first step. In fact, the study shows that it does not matter how those two hours are achieved, so whether you decide to take on a two hour hike or spend 24 minutes outside every day during lunch, you’re going to see the same benefits.

And with the weather looking pretty fantastic over the next week, why not challenge yourself to getting outside every day during lunch - if your workplace has a shower, why not go for a run in one of London’s many parks? Taking a trip to a botanical garden is also a great choice – not only do you get to spend time surrounded by nature and plants, you can also take refuge in the glasshouses when the weather gets too much.

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And if all else fails, crack out the SPF and spend some time basking in the sun. We’re not promising some miraculous mood-boosting solution, but taking time aside from the business of daily life to take a walk or breathe in fresh air can do us all a bit of good.

Images: Getty


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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

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