Exposure to green spaces and wildlife can help people living and working in cities with their mental wellbeing, according to new research.
A paper by researchers from King’s College London, landscape architects J&L Gibbons and art the foundation Nomad Projects claims exposure to trees, the sky and bird song can all improve a person’s mental wellbeing.
The researchers developed a smartphone app for the paper, which monitored exposure to nature and green spaces.
The app asked individuals taking part in the study about their current environment and mental wellbeing during a week-long trial. Using GPS-based geo-tagging, the app was able to monitor their exact locations.
The researchers found “significant immediate” benefits associated with trees, the sky and birdsong.
According to the study, the benefits lasted for several hours after visiting green spaces. The research follows studies produced last year by the FT as part of its Britain’s Healthiest Workplace research, which showcased how several firms improved worker wellbeing via access to green and outdoor space.
“These findings suggest that short-term exposure has a measurable beneficial impact on mental wellbeing,” said Dr Andrea Mechelli, from King’s College London.
“The interaction of this effect with trait impulsivity is intriguing, as it suggests that nature could be especially beneficial to those individuals who are at risk of poor mental health.
“We hope this line of research will lead to the development of low-cost scalable interventions, aimed at promoting mental health in urban populations,” added Mr Mechelli.
Michael Smythe, an artist and researcher from Nomad Projects, added: “This study represents a successful example of how smartphone technologies can be employed as a tool for citizen science.
“It also demonstrates the value of academic and non-academic researchers coming together to carry out truly cross-disciplinary work with tangible real-world benefits.”
The paper, entitled Urban Mind: Using Smartphone Technologies to Investigate the impact of Nature on Mental Wellbeing in Real Time has been published in the journal BioScience today
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