This study adds to growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being.
From an analysis of 1,252 people (of different ages, genders and mental health status) drawn from ten existing studies in the United Kingdom, the authors were able to show that activity in the presence of nature led to mental and physical health improvements.
The greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally-ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. All natural environments were beneficial including parks in urban settings.
The biggest effect was seen within just five minutes.
With longer periods of time exercising in a green environment, the positive effects were clearly apparent but were of a smaller magnitude, the study found.
The study leader said those who were generally inactive, or stressed, or with mental illness would probably benefit the most from "green exercise".
"So we believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate more with green exercise," the author said.
Research Paper Details:
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