Taking at least twenty minutes out of your day to walk or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels.

A new study, recently published in Frontiers in Psychology, concludes that spending between 20-30 minutes near trees and flowers lowered stress hormones by around 25%. Scientists said the benefits continued after half an hour but at a reduced rate.

“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan and lead author of this research. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.”

Social prescribing – non-medical treatments that yield health benefits – are a central part of the NHS long term plan launched in January 2019 – and designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs.

Those who could benefit from social prescribing schemes include people with mild or long-term mental health problems, vulnerable groups, people who are socially isolated, and those who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care.

Medway Council is looking to increase awareness of local health services and resources and this new study is welcomed as clear evidence of the wide reaching health and social benefits that will be afforded by visiting our parks and public green spaces.