This time the survey data was gathered from more than 3,500 interviews conducted over 7 months from 2012-2013. The study participants were asked questions about their use of the natural environment, as well as questions about their life satisfaction, happiness, and anxiety levels. The main conclusion was that people who spent time outdoors were far more likely to give positive assessments about their own mental wellbeing than people didn’t.
Further, the highest levels of self-confessed happiness were reported by people who usually spent time outdoors more than once a week. Happiness was measured on a scale from 0 (“not at all” happy) to 10 (“completely” happy). These people had a mean score of 7.7. People who engaged in regular gardening had a mean score of 7.6. People who spent some time outdoors every day had a mean score of 8.2.
Some of the higher scores were from people who said their life activities are “worthwhile”. From this group, some of the highest scores came from people who walked and biked when they could, were members of environmental organizations, and from people who buy locally grown and seasonal food.
It does seem like common sense to many people, but as the authors suggest, this survey “adds to the growing body of evidence showing that the natural environment has a significant role to play in improving mental wellbeing”. Do you find that spending regular time outdoors tends to improve your mental wellbeing, and detract from it when you don’t spend time outdoors?
Image CC licensed by Tony Fischer