A 20 minute walk can help reduce stress

A 20-minute stroll in the park is one of the best ways to beat stress, according to new research.

Spending 20 to 30 minutes in surroundings that provide a “sense of nature” was found to lower stress hormones by about 10 per cent.

Dr MaryCarol Hunter, who led the research at the US University of Michigan, suggested doctors should prescribe time outdoors – or “nature-pills” – to patients suffering from anxiety and other stress-induced issues.

“You don’t have to travel to the wildlands. Getting out of an office block and sitting next to a tree can be enough,” said Dr Hunter. “For the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.”

The benefits continue to increase after half an hour, but at a significantly lower rate, according to the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Non-medical treatments or social prescribing now form a key part of the UK government’s long term health plan. Health secretary Matt Hancock said he wanted to see the “balance shifted” from drugs to social activities to improve the nation’s health.

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