Ecotherapy: Research shows spending just 20 minutes in a park can improve mental health

Written by on April 1, 2021

Ecotherapy: Research shows spending just 20 minutes in a park can improve mental health

By Megan Frank

April 2, 2021

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy at Harvard University shows activities like walking in the woods can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Even a few minutes outside can do the trick.

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Dr. Jilda Hodges, a licensed psychologist at Lehigh Psychological Services in Allentown, says being outdoors has a calming effect that can reduce stress hormones and improve concentration.

“You get the benefits of the sun, like Vitamin D. And there’s actually physical impacts as well, like lowered blood pressure and lowered cortisol,” Hodges says. 

She sometimes writes “nature prescriptions” to patients, she says, so they can take advantage of this “free medicine.”

She says spending just 20 minutes in a park or natural space is enough time.  As long as you’re not staring at your cell phone.  

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