Nature Time and Stress Levels (04-05-19)

Hunter and colleagues investigated the amount of time that people need to spend “anywhere outside that, in the opinion of the participant, included a sufficiency of natural elements to feel like a nature interaction” to reduce their stress levels.  The research team reports that over an 8-week period “study participants are free to choose the time of day, duration, and the place of a NE [nature exposure]. . . . urban dwellers were asked to have a NE, defined as spending time in an outdoor place that brings a sense of contact with nature, at least three times a week for a duration of 10 min or more. . . . For salivary cortisol, an NE produced a 21.3%/hour drop. . . . The efficiency of a nature pill . . . was greatest between 20 and 30 min, after which benefits continued to accrue, but at a reduced rate. For salivary alpha-amylase, there was a 28.1%/h drop . . . but only for participants that were [at] least active sitting or sitting with some walking. Activity type did not influence cortisol response.”  Salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase are stress biomarkers. Creating at-work, etc., outdoor areas where people would choose to spend 10 minutes three times a week may be feasible at many locations.

MaryCarol Hunter, Brenda Gillespie, and Sophie Chen.  2019.  “Urban Nature Experiences Reduce Stress in the Context of Daily Life Based on Salivary Biomarkers.”  Frontiers in Psychology, https://doi.org/10.10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00722