Dr Carly Wood, Lecturer in Food, Nutrition and Public Health, wrote an article for The Conversation about how spending ten minutes a day in nature could reduce stress and anxiety for students.
In the article, Dr Wood discusses the high levels of stress and mental ill-health. She said there is a growing body of research which suggests that being outdoors can improve mental health, but noted that this can be difficult for students due to spending most of their time indoors, studying and attending lectures.
She wrote: “Numerous studies looking at the health benefits of being in nature have started focusing on finding out how long we need to spend in nature in order to experience health improvement.”
She outlined some of these studies and said that there is limited research into studies specifically focused on college or university-aged students. However, a recent review looking into the minimum nature dose to improve the mental health of students found that compared with equal time spent in an urban setting, as little as ten to twenty minutes in a range of natural settings led to significant health improvements.
Despite this, Dr Wood noted that the review had a number of drawbacks, including most of the review being conducted in Japan in male participants and it is unclear whether the students were suffering from mental ill-health at the time of the research.
She added: “Based on the findings of this review, and the growing body of research that supports the mental health benefits of nature exposure and green exercise, both students and the general population should try to spend time in nature as part of their daily lives as a way of combating stress and improving mental health.”