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Contact to nature benefits health: mixed effectiveness of different mechanisms


Hofmann, Mathias; Youngstrom, Christopher E; Binz, Tina M; Baumgartner, Markus R; Bauer, Nicole (2017). Contact to nature benefits health: mixed effectiveness of different mechanisms. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(1):31.

Abstract

How can urban nature contribute to the reduction of chronic stress? We twice measured the concentration of the "stress hormone" cortisol in the hair of 85 volunteer gardeners (six months apart), relating cortisol level change to (self-reported) characteristics of their recreational activities. Both time spent in nature and physical activity led to decreases in cortisol, while time spent being idle led to an increase. At high levels of present stressors, however, the relationship for time spent in nature and for idleness was reversed. Time spent with social interaction had no effect on cortisol levels. Our results indicate that physical activity is an effective means of mitigating the negative effects of chronic stress. The results regarding the time spent in nature and time spent being idle are less conclusive, suggesting the need for more research. We conclude that if chronic stress cannot be abolished by eradicating its sources, public health may take to measures to reduce it-providing urban nature being one effective possibility.

Abstract

How can urban nature contribute to the reduction of chronic stress? We twice measured the concentration of the "stress hormone" cortisol in the hair of 85 volunteer gardeners (six months apart), relating cortisol level change to (self-reported) characteristics of their recreational activities. Both time spent in nature and physical activity led to decreases in cortisol, while time spent being idle led to an increase. At high levels of present stressors, however, the relationship for time spent in nature and for idleness was reversed. Time spent with social interaction had no effect on cortisol levels. Our results indicate that physical activity is an effective means of mitigating the negative effects of chronic stress. The results regarding the time spent in nature and time spent being idle are less conclusive, suggesting the need for more research. We conclude that if chronic stress cannot be abolished by eradicating its sources, public health may take to measures to reduce it-providing urban nature being one effective possibility.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:340 Law
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:22 Feb 2018 17:15
Last Modified:14 Mar 2018 17:46
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:1660-4601
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15010031
PubMed ID:29295586

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