Un­der the weather? Try head­ing to a park

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - RACHEL THOMAS

Half an hour in a park each week could help stave off de­pres­sion and quash high blood pres­sure,

Dr Danielle Shana­han, the new­est re­search fel­low at Welling­ton’s Zealan­dia wildlife sanc­tu­ary, has found the mere act of be­ing in a park ac­tu­ally im­proves health.

Shana­han stud­ied more than 1500 Bris­bane res­i­dents, aged be­tween 18 and 70, in Novem­ber 2012 while earn­ing a doc­tor­ate in bi­o­log­i­cal con­ser­va­tion at Aus­tralia’s Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land.

Her re­search, which has been pub­lished in Na­ture mag­a­zine, found that 7 per cent of de­pres­sion cases and 9 per cent of high blood pres­sure cases could be pre­vented by vis­it­ing green spa­ces at least once a week for 30 min­utes or more.

Ex­er­cise helped stack on the health ben­e­fits, she said.

‘‘You go into the doc­tor and you could get a pre­scrip­tion for go­ing to a park. If you go to that park and do ex­er­cise while you’re there, you get ben­e­fits of the two.’’

While stud­ies on the health ben­e­fits of the nat­u­ral out­doors and ex­er­cise are not new, Shana­han said she wanted to shed some light on what dose of na­ture was re­quired to get the best ben­e­fits.

She also wanted to ex­am­ine the ben­e­fits for cities that come from pre­serv­ing nat­u­ral spa­ces.

Welling­to­ni­ans are spoilt for choice when it comes to na­ture op­tions, with a col­lec­tion of rolling hills and bush­walks on their doorstep, Shana­han said.

A re­cent study pub­lished in The Lancet found that Welling­ton had the most ac­tive res­i­dents com­pared to 13 other cities world­wide, in­clud­ing Auck­land and Christchurch, due to its high den­sity and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble open space.

Dr Danielle Shana­han has found that be­ing out in na­ture im­proves health.

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