Spending 20 or 30 minutes in a place that evokes nature reduces the level of cortisol, the stress hormone.
It is not necessary to escape several days in the countryside to enjoy the benefits of nature: according to a recent study, about twenty minutes in a park, or a natural environment in the city, are enough to reduce our level of stress. Their results appeared in Frontiers in Psychology.
A "nature pill"
"We know that spending time in nature reduces stress," says Dr. Mary Carol Hunter, author of this study, but until today things remained uncertain: how much time is needed, how often? kind of experience of nature is beneficial? " The researcher started from this observation to conduct her test with 36 urban participants.
For eight weeks, they were asked to take a "nature pill", that is, to spend at least ten minutes outside three times a week. Their level of cortisol, a hormone that is associated with stress, was measured before and after with salivary tests. Participants were free to choose the location, as long as it gave them the impression of interacting with nature. However, they could not exercise, read, have a conversation, or use their phone.
Reduce stress at a lower cost
Experience shows that 20 minutes of "nature pill" a day is sufficient time to feel a decrease in cortisol levels, on average it reaches 21.3% / hour. If we exceed this threshold, up to 30 minutes, the rate is reduced even more, beyond half an hour, the decline continues but at a slower pace.
For Mary Carol Hunter, these "nature doses" available in the city can easily reduce stress and at a lower cost. The latter does more harm than we can imagine: an American study indicates that it is responsible for 90% of pathologies.