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2 hours. Go!

Help yourself out...side...

There is a growing body of literature that is catching up to something that you have likely known for most of your life: being outside feels good and is good for you. Perhaps not always, but often.

The benefits are well documented: being outside and engaged in natural settings leads to a reduction in stress hormones, lowering of blood pressure, positive impacts to attention and thinking, as well as improvements in social connections. Often the research is difficult to pin down - sometimes studies are noticing an effect, but it could be coming from any number of variables. For instance, is the lower blood pressure due to positive social interactions or mere exposure to green spaces? Not only is it tricky to disentangle what is at the root of these positive impacts, but for a long time there has also been questions about dosage.

How much of a good thing?

A recent study offers a clear guideline for how much time to spend outside: 2 hours. 120 minutes in total should do the trick. Researchers noticed that less than that does not offer as many benefits. And, curiously, benefits plateau shortly after 120 minutes. So 2 hours places us in the goldilocks zone for maximizing benefits from being outdoors - it's juuuust right.

The study also reported that you have a lot of latitude over how you get those 120 minutes. Go for it all at once. Space it out to every day of the week. A couple of 60 minute sessions...doesn't really matter. Just get yourself around the 2 hour sweet spot and you have the best shot of maximizing your return on time outside.

You can spend the time engaging with just about any activity. This seems particularly accessible here in the state of Maine, where outdoor spaces and activities are abundant: gentle walks, forest bathing, birding, checking your game cameras, paddling, biking on trails, romping your dogs in the park, drawing/painting outside - all up for grabs.

So, get out there and give your mental health and wellness a solid kickstart.

Source for image and study:

White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44097-3

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