The most significant findings were that being outside in nature for 20 minutes a day was enough to boost feelings of vitality
Spending just 20 minutes a day in the park is enough to significantly boost vitality and energy levels, researchers have found.

Being outside in nature makes people feel more alive and could be important for mental and physical health, studies have shown.

A series of experiments conducted on college students in America has shown that the boost in well being comes from being outside, rather than the effect of physical exercise or socializing with others.

Lead author, Richard Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry, and education at the University of Rochester, in New York, said:
"Nature is fuel for the soul.

"Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.

"Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don't just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings."
The experiments published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology involved over 500 students.

Participants were led on a 15-minute walk through indoor hallways or along a tree-lined river path. In another, the undergraduates viewed photographic scenes of buildings or landscapes. A third experiment required students to imagine themselves in a variety of situations both active and sedentary, inside and out, and with and without others.

Two final experiments tracked participants' moods and energy levels throughout the day using diary entries. Over either four days or two weeks, students recorded their exercise, social interactions, time spent outside, and exposure to natural environments, including plants and windows.

And that sense of increased vitality exists above and beyond the energizing effects of physical activity and social interaction that are often associated with our forays into the natural world, the studies show.

All the results showed the students consistently felt more energetic when they spent time in natural settings or just imagined themselves in such situations.

The most significant findings were that being outside in nature for 20 minutes a day was enough to boost feelings of vitality.

Prof Ryan added:
"We have a natural connection with living things.

"Nature is something within which we flourish, so having it be more a part of our lives is critical, especially when we live and work in built environments."
He said these studies underscore the importance of having access to parks and natural surroundings and of incorporating natural elements into our buildings through windows and indoor plants.