Is Wellbeing Associated with Time Spent in Nature?

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Francis Rowney
Daniel Thompson
Amy Mizen
Mathew White
Rebecca Lovell
Richard Fry
Alan Watkins
Benedict Wheeler
Ashley Akbari
Gareth Stratton
Ronan Lyons
James White
Mark Nieuwenhuijsen
Rebecca Geary
Sarah E Rodgers


Green and blue spaces (GBS), such as parks, woodlands, rivers, and beaches, are thought to be important for mental health and wellbeing. Our longitudinal cohort contains objective household-level environment data linked at the invidual level to routinely recorded mental health data, augmented with cross sectional self-reported health behaviours, including leisure visits to the outdoors.

Objectives and Approach
Our overall approach will evaluate if residential proximity to GBS is associated with mental health and wellbeing, and if any associations are
modified by visits to outdoors spaces following individual-level data linkage. Here, we examined cross-sectional survey data on time spent visiting nature outdoors. Wellbeing outcomes were assessed using self-reported scores. Data were analysed using generalised additive models in the SAIL Databank.

Using a sample of National Survey for Wales respondents (2016/17, n=3,481), over 40% of adults in Wales reported spending less than 30 minutes outdoors each week. Weekly time outdoors was positively associated with wellbeing (p=0.007) and life satisfaction (p=0.03) having adjusted for potential confounders including, age, rurality, loneliness, employment status. Confidence intervals varied along the fitted GAM model. Models using a second wave of survey data (n≈7,000), anonymously record-linked to residential environment and health data will explore these associations further.

A previous study based in England (White et al. 2019) found an upper wellbeing benefit threshold of 2 hours per week for time spent in nature. This was not apparent in our preliminary models, but may be revealed in further analyses. We will next incorporate longitudinal mental health and environmental data for 2 million adults living in Wales, UK. Linking to ambient and accessible residential GBS, while taking into account changes due to migration and actual visits, will allow us to provide valuable guidance to local government, who are often responsible for provisioning and maintaining outdoor facilities.

Article Details

How to Cite
Rowney, F., Thompson, D., Mizen, A., White, M., Lovell, R., Fry, R., Watkins, A., Wheeler, B., Akbari, A., Stratton, G., Lyons, R., White, J., Nieuwenhuijsen, M., Geary, R. and Rodgers, S. E. (2020) “Is Wellbeing Associated with Time Spent in Nature?”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(5). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i5.1619.

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