A growing number of studies have shown that visiting green spaces and being exposed to natural environments can reduce psychological stress. A number of questions concerning the effects of natural environments on levels of stress remain including, “Are activities engaged in natural environments more or less beneficial at reducing stress when compared to those done in more urban settings?” This study examined this question from the perspective of “levels of nature”. That is, data on levels of stress were collected from three sites, one site having wilderness-like characteristics, a second site representing a municipal-type park, and a third site representing a built environment (indoor exercise facility) within a city. Data were generated using biophysical markers (cortisol and amylase) and a psychological measure within a pre- and post-visit format. Findings suggest that visiting natural environments can be beneficial in reducing both physical and psychological stress levels, with visitors to a natural environment reporting significantly lower levels of stress than their counterparts visiting a more urbanized outdoor setting or indoor exercise facility.
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