Exposure to great outdoors reduced risk of depression, anxiety during pandemic

People exposed to more green space during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic reported significantly less depression and anxiety, according to new University of Colorado Boulder research published March 2 in the journal PLOS One.

The study also found that, at a time when mental health problems soared due to financial woes, supply shortages and nonstop news coverage of the virus, people sought solace in the great outdoors, with one-third spending more time there than they did pre-COVID.

“This research shows how critical it is to keep parks and green spaces open in times of crisis,” said senior author Colleen Reid, an assistant professor of geography in the Institute for Behavioral Science. “It also shows that, as a public health measure, more effort should be made to put in green spaces and make them accessible.” Read more about JPB Fellow Colleen Reid’s research.