The next time you’re planning a healthy trip, you might want to stay close to nature—but that doesn’t mean you should head to just any run-of-the-mill park. A new study found spending time in coastal or rural areas rather than cities (even if you hang out in urban green spaces) is much better for your well-being.
When researchers asked 4,500 participants to recall recent visits to different locations, they found those who traveled to places with more natural offerings felt much better psychologically than those who spent their time in city gardens and parks. Not only were coastal/rural wanderlusters more relaxed and refreshed, but they also felt more connected to nature than they did elsewhere—especially if their visits lasted more than 30 minutes.
“Nature can be beneficial to us, but we’re still exploring how and why. Our mental well-being and our emotional bond with nature may differ depending on the type and quality of an environment we visit.” —Kayleigh Wyles, PhD
“We’ve demonstrated for some time that nature can be beneficial to us, but we’re still exploring how and why. Here we have found that our mental well-being and our emotional bond with nature may differ depending on the type and quality of an environment we visit,” lead study author Kayleigh Wyles, PhD, said in a press release.
While heading to your city park is still a great way to get a breath of fresh air on a whim, it likely won’t give your mental health a boost quite like getting out into nature, without bright lights or concrete in sight. Whether you’re forest-bathing in California or going on a waterfall hike in Maine, go get lost in nature to sufficiently recharge.