Forget the pricey gym membership. Just five minutes of exercise in the open air can immediately boost your self-esteem and mood, new research from the UK has found.
The University of Essex study of 1252 people drawn from 10 previous studies found those who exercised outdoors ("green exercising") showed immediate physical and mental improvements, the UK's Daily Telegraph reported.
"The study showed there was a significant increase in people's self-esteem and mood, particularly when they exercised in the wilderness or by the water," said researcher Dr Jo Barton.
"This is because historically we are drawn to the water to survive as it is in our genetic nature to be alone with nature."
While other studies have made the link between health benefits and exercising outdoors, this was the first study to quantify the "dose" of nature required.
"I think the fact that you only have to do it for five minutes is encouraging and a lot cheaper than the gym," Dr Barton said. "Something of light intensity such as a short walk can have as much of a positive impact as a more intensive work-out."
Dr Barton and colleague Professor Jules Pretty have called for doctors to prescribe "green" activities for patients who suffer from mental illness.
"Too often, the first option is to prescribe medication when the medical profession should be encouraging patients to join a walking group instead for example, Dr Barton said.
The findings are published in American journal, Environmental Science and Technology.
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