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Page last updated at 14:11 GMT, Wednesday, 3 November 2010
University of Essex studies benefits of being outdoors
Autumnal park scene
Could a five minute walk in the park reduce your stress levels?

Researchers at the University of Essex have begun a three year study into how green spaces can help combat stress.

Previous studies at the University have already shown how a 'dose of nature' can alter self esteem and mood.

Now with help from a £90,000 grant from the British Heart Foundation, a new investigation will look specifically at how the outdoors can beat work stress.

"There's a real need for finding things that combat stress in the workplace," said project leader Dr Valerie Gladwell

"One of the things we're really interested in is how it links to heart disease.

"We know that heart disease and stress are strongly linked, we also know stress in the workplace is going up quite considerably - it's gone up 4% this year whereas it normally only rises 1%."

Research will be conducted around Colchester with volunteers representing a cross section of the population.

Researchers know nature reduces stress, but want to find out why

Dr Gladwell, from the university's Department of Biological Sciences, explained they already had some good data as a starting point to work from.

"Previous work that's been done here at the University of Essex by Dr Barton and Professor Pretty has shown that just five minutes can alter your self esteem and mood immediately after that exposure," she said.

"What we want to see is how long that effect lasts for and how it may help alleviate stress symptoms as well."




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