You may already know, or at least have an inkling, that spending time outside in nature is good for you. Research suggests we should use the 20-5-3 rule.

20 minutes a day, 3 times a week in a park

According to Rachel Hopman, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Northeastern University:

“A 20-minute stroll through a city botanical garden can boost cognition and memory as well as improve feelings of well-being.”

Good to know – but make sure you stay off your phone while you’re strolling. Dr Hopman says: “we found that people who used their cell phone on the walk saw none of those benefits.”

If you’re like me and a short run in the park is part of your high intensity interval training, and you can’t manage a full 20 minute run – try the run / walk / run combo (e.g. run for one minute, walk for four minutes, repeat five times).

We should be doing 20 minutes three times a week for the greatest effect on the stress hormone cortisol.

5 hours a month in semi-wild nature – like a forested state park

Studies show this more wild nature experience provides a range of benefits that help people feel happier and less stressed in their everyday lives. Just remember how soothing it is to be with big trees, how invigorating the smell of nature is, and that sense of awe you get looking at a big mountain or beautiful stream or lake.

3 days off the grid once a year

Three days in wild nature once a year gives us the ultimate:

“It causes your brain to ride alpha waves, the same waves that increase during meditation or when you lapse into a flow state. They can reset your thinking, boost creativity, tame burnout, and just make you feel better.

This is likely why one study found that three days in the wild boosts creativity and problem-solving abilities and another found that U. S. military vets who spent four days white-water rafting were still buzzing off the wild a week later.

Their PTSD symptoms and stress levels were down 29 and 21 percent, respectively. Their relationships, happiness, and general satisfaction with their lives all improved as well.”

This is a good excuse for me, the hapless tramper, to add on an extra day to any big walk or hike. It’s not just good for my feet, but good for my brain to take longer to do the same distance!

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