Break your habit of wasting your work breaks at your desk: spending time in green, outdoor spaces may cut your risk of developing high blood pressure, a new study from Australia suggests.
The researchers estimated that spending at least 30 minutes a week in a park cuts the risk of developing hypertension by 9 per cent, and the chances of becoming depressed by 7 per cent compared to those who spend less time in a park.
The mental benefit of being outdoors probably explains the reduced risk of both physical conditions, says lead study author Dr Danielle Shanahan from the University of Brisbane.
Separate research backs this up: A study published last year inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that walking in nature reduces activity in your subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain linked to risk of mental illness and depression.
Plus, spending time outside also gives you a break from daily stressors like work and other responsibilities, Shanahan says.
This can lower the stress hormones in your body, helping to reduce anxiety and keep your BP in check.
It’s best to spend your park time in one big chunk—the study shows that bundling the 30 minutes into a single visit is more beneficial than taking several shorter visits.
But if you can’t swing 30 minutes all at once, you can still get some benefits from shorter bursts throughout your week.
Fit in a few minutes per day by walking through a park on your way to the train station, or eating your lunch at an outdoor picnic table instead of at your desk, Shanahan says.
And if you really can’t leave your desk, bring the park to you: adding green plants to your office can bring the relaxing feel of nature to your office, too.