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Green space exercise boosts mental health

4th May 2010

Researchers from the University of Essex have said that spending time exercising in a green place can improve mental health.

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The team said that exercising for only five minutes could quickly improve mood and self-esteem.

The researchers examined 10 studies of 1,250 people and published their findings in the Enviromental Science and Technology journal.

The team found that the most significant effects of exercising in a green area were seen in younger people.

The study looked at different types of exercise, including gardening, cycling, fishing, horseriding, boating and walking in environments such as parks and gardens.

A more pronounced effect was seen when the green area also included a stretch of water such as a lake or river.

Study leader Jules Pretty, a researcher at the University of Essex, said people who did not take much exercise, or suffered from stress, or had mental illness would most likely see the most benefits from "green exercise".

"Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health."

"A challenge for policy makers is that policy recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely," he added.


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