Here's another reason you should spend more quality time with Mother Nature: People who live closer to green spaces have better mental health, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Researchers analyzed data from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin, which included information from 2,479 people living in over 200 neighborhoods throughout the state. Study authors compared the participants' distance from plant-abundant places (like a park or a farm) and their overall self-reported mental wellbeing. Their analysis showed that the closer a person lived to an area that had lots of foliage—trees, grass, or flowers—the more positive they felt about their lives.
Now, the exact reason behind this association isn't clear, but previous studies have shown that hanging out in leafy areas encourages physical activity (hello, outdoor yoga!) and social interaction (picnic in the park, anyone?), both of which relieve stress, says study author Kirsten Beyer, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Plus, one study found that just walking through a green space helped beat brain fatigue.
Obviously, you can't just get up and move to a greener area, but you can still reap some of the benefits by making an effort to spend more time outside (preferably in a park or other green space). Here are seven ways to get your fill of nature—even if you live in the city.