Melbourne | People who visit parks for 30 minutes or more each week are much less likely to have high blood pressure or poor mental health than those who do not, according to new research.
The study led by University of Queensland (UQ) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) suggests people might need a minimum dose of nature. According to Dr Danielle Shanahan, parks offer health benefits including reduced risks of developing heart disease, stress, anxiety and depression.
If everyone visited their local parks for half an hour each week there would be seven per cent fewer cases of depression and nine per cent fewer cases of high blood pressure, Shanahan said. Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at 12.6 billion dollars a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense, she said.
Associate Professor Richard Fuller said the research could transform the way people viewed urban parks. We’ve known for a long time that visiting parks is good for our health, but we are now beginning to establish exactly how much time we need to spend in parks to gain these benefits, he said. We have specific evidence that we need regular visits of at least half an hour to ensure we get these benefits, Shanahan added.