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Five mins of green exercise `can boost mental health`

London: Can`t find time for workouts? Fret not, for a new study claims that five minutes of exercise in a "green space", such as a park or near a lake, is enough to boost your mental health.

Researchers in Britain have based their findings on an analysis of evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies - in fact they found that "green exercise" can boost fast improvements in mood and self-esteem.

The study, published in the `Environmental Science and Technology` journal suggested that the strongest impact was on young people, the `BBC News` reported.

In their study, the researchers looked at many different outdoor activities including walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming in locations such as a park, garden or nature trail.

The biggest effect was seen within just five minutes. With longer periods of time exercising in a green environment, the positive effects were clearly apparent but were of a smaller magnitude, the findings revealed.

Looking at men and women of different ages, the researchers found the health changes -- physical and mental -- were particularly strong in the young and the mentally-ill.

A bigger effect was seen with exercise in an area that also contained water -- such as a lake or river. Lead researcher Jules Pretty of University of Essex, said those who were generally inactive, or stressed, or with mental illness would probably benefit the most from "green exercise".

"Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health," he said.

However, Paul Farmer, the chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said the research is yet further evidence that even a short period of green exercise can provide a low cost and drug-free therapy to help improve mental well being.

"It`s important that people experiencing depression can be given the option of a range of treatments, and we would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate," he said.

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