Under the weather? Try heading to a park
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.