30×30 Nature Challenge participants doubled time in nature, increased happiness
TORONTO - In May, more than 10,000 Canadians and over 250 workplaces participated in the David Suzuki Foundation's 30×30 Nature Challenge. The national program challenged participants to commit to getting out into nature for 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days.
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Today, the Foundation released results from research into the impact the challenge had on participants' health and well-being and connection to nature, conducted by Trent University Researcher Dr. Elizabeth Nisbet.
"We found that participants in the 30×30 Nature Challenge almost doubled their time spent outside during the month and reduced their screen time by about 4.5 hours per week," said Dr Nisbet. "They reported significant increases in their sense of well-being, feeling more vitality and energy, while feelings of stress, negativity, and sleep disturbances were all reduced."
The research found that in addition to increased time spent outdoors and a positive overall experience, participants also reported a slightly stronger sense of identification with the natural world and desire to spend time in nature. Workplace participants also reported an added benefit of feeling more productive on the job. And although participants varied in terms of how much they were able to spend time in nature, it was clear that the more nature contact people had, the more they reported being happier and connected with nature.
"We were ecstatic that thousands of Canadians joined us in getting out for their daily dose of nature," said spokesperson Aryne Sheppard of the David Suzuki Foundation. "And it is encouraging that just a few additional hours in nature each week has such a positive effect on well-being."
Many participants reported feeling happier, just by having lunch outside or walking through a park. For some, nature contact was already a regular part of their daily routine, but others noted that making the effort each day eventually became an enjoyable new habit.
"Most encouragingly, the results demonstrate that even in our busy daily lives, it is possible to find time to get outside and experience the many benefits from regular nature contact," continued Sheppard. "Green time is possible, even in the city."
The results are consistent with a growing body of evidence that even brief nature contact enhances positive mood and reduces stress responses. Getting outside into nature is a relatively easy, low-cost way to promote physical and mental health.
The 30×30 Nature Challenge was presented in partnership with Genuine Health, with generous support from Cisco Systems Canada, Interface Canada, Harvest Power, the Arcangelo Rea Family Foundation and Nature's Path Foods. CBC Live Right Now supported the 30×30 Nature Challenge through its Get Outside campaign at LiveRightNow.ca.
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THE 30×30 NATURE CHALLENGE
- The David Suzuki Foundation challenged Canadians to join the 30×30 Nature Challenge and committing to spend 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days in May 2013.
- They received tips for how to add nature to their daily routine through the 30×30 website, hashtag #30×30challenge and David Suzuki Foundation social media (@davidsuzukiFDN and www.facebook.com/davidsuzuki)
- Participants were eligible for weekly prizes through the 30×30 Photo Contest and a grand prize if they completed the pre and post-challenge surveys.
THE 30×30 NATURE CHALLENGE SURVEY
- As part of the 30×30 Nature Challenge, the David Suzuki Foundation worked with researcher Dr. Elizabeth Nisbet from the University of Trent to analyze how time in nature affected well-being by conducting participant surveys before and after the challenge.
- The survey was designed to measure changes in well-being and subjective connectedness with nature.
- The findings of the report can be found here
KEY FINDINGS OF 30×30 SURVEY
- The number of hours spent outdoors almost doubled during the challenge, to approximately 8.5 hours per week.
- Participants reduced time spent watching television time by about 2 hours per week and spent about 2.5 fewer hours per week surfing the internet or emailing.
- Participants varied in terms of how much they were able to spend time in nature but in general, rates of nature contact increased and well-being also increased. Participants who developed a stronger connection with nature over the study also reported more improvements in happiness.
- There were significant increases on all indicators of well-being after completing the challenge, including feeling more vitality and energy, and a greater sense of calm and peacefulness. Feelings of stress, negativity, and sleep disturbances were all reduced.
- Participants varied in terms of how much they were able to spend time in nature, but the more nature contact people had, the more they reported being happier and connected with nature.
30×30 NATURE CHALLENGE PARTNERS
- Genuine Health
- Cisco Systems Canada
- Interface Canada
- Harvest Power
- The Arcangelo Rea Family Foundation
- Nature's Path Foods
- Bullfrog Power
- Usability Matters
- CBC LiveRightNow.ca