“Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at $A12.6 billion a year, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense,” she said.
Transforming Urban Parks
The research, UQ CEED researcher Associate Professor Richard Fuller said, could transform the way people viewed urban parks.
“We’ve known for a long time that visiting parks is good for our health, but we are now beginning to establish exactly how much time we need to spend in parks to gain these benefits,” he said. “We have specific evidence that we need regular visits of at least half an hour to ensure we get these benefits.”
Dr Shanahan said 40 per cent of Brisbane residents did not visit an urban park in a typical week.
“So how can we encourage people to spend more time in green space?” she said. “We need more support and encouragement of community activities in natural spaces.
Our children especially benefit from spending more time outdoors. Kids who grow up experiencing natural environments may benefit developmentally and have a heightened environmental awareness as adults than those who don’t.”
The research team included scientists from UQ’s School of Public Health, the University of Exeter, and CSIRO Land and Water. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions is funded by the Australian Government.