The effects of green exercise on stress, anxiety and mood

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  • The effects of green exercise on stress, anxiety and mood: The role of perceived greenness, exercise cognitions, and connection to nature James T. Neill Graham Mackay Brent Holgate Amy Rugendyke Centre for Applied Psychology University of Canberra 27-30 September, 2012, 47 th Annual Australian Psychological Society Conference, 27-30 September, 2012, Perth, Western Australia This presentation is copyright by the authors and available under Creative Commons Attribution (CC-by-A), http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ license. Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ProspectPark_Brooklyn_Nethermead.jpg License: Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en and GNU LGPL 2.1+, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lesser.html Author: Garry R. Osgood Abstract There is growing interest in and recognition of the importance of the natural environment in people’s physical and psychological well-being. We have known for some time that physical exercise is vital for well-being and also that spending time in relatively natural environments has calming, restorative effects (Maller et al., 2008). What happens when physical exercise is combined with natural environments is now being studied as “green exercise”. Early field and lab-based green exercise studies identified short-term improvements in self-esteem and mood. However, much remains unknown about the mechanisms by which green exercise may create positive effects, the range of psychological impacts, and what types of green exercise can be recommended. In a series of related field studies, the pioneering green exercise research by Jules Pretty and colleagues at the University of Essex (e.g., Barton & Pretty, 2010), has been followed up and extended at the University of Canberra (e.g., Mackay & Neill, 2010), with findings indicating moderate that positive effects on stress, anxiety and mood can be partially explained by perceived greenness, cognitions during exercise, and connectedness to nature, whilst duration and intensity of exercise tends not to predict measured outcomes. This presentation will describe three related green exercise field studies conducted at the University of Canberra, each involving over 10 naturally occurring green exercise groups, with sample sizes over 100 participants. Moderated effects on measured outcomes (stress, anxiety, and mood) are evident, with novel measures developed for these studies to investigate perceived and desired environmental greenness, environmental cognitions during exercise, and Mayer and Frantz’s (2004) measure of connectedness to exercise, offering potential insight into recommended mechanisms for enhancing positive psychological change. Through such studies, green exercise appears to be emerging as a promising, evidence-based, low-cost, preventative and rehabilitative psychological and physical health strategy, with greater understanding about green exercise processes and effects likely to be developed through further replication and application of other research methodologies.
  • Presentation home page: http://goo.gl/xnSXg or http://wilderdom.com/wiki/Neill_Mackay_Holgate_Rugendyke_2012_Green_exercise Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:High-contrast-camera-photo-2.svg&page=1 License: GNU GPL 2.1+, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lesser.html Author: IlPasseggero, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:IlPasseggero Date: 25 January 2011 Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Icon_External_Link.svg&page=1 License: GNU LGPL 2.1+, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lesser.html Author: TMg, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:TMg Date: 27 January 2011
  • Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Information_icon4.svg License: Public domain Author:
  • There is growing interest in, and recognition of, the importance of the natural environment in people’s physical and psychological well-being. We have also known for some time that physical exercise is vital for well-being. In addition, there is evidence that spending time in relatively natural environments has calming, restorative effects (Maller et al., 2008). What happens when physical exercise is combined with natural environments is now being studied as “green exercise”. Image source:http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:What_is_green_exercise.svg Image author: James Neill, 2009 Image license: Public domain
  • Image Source: http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/File:Mountain_bike_ParcoSibillini.jpg License: CC-by-A 3.0 Author: scattata da F.Grifoni per conto di Laura Fortunato (Archila') Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Conway_lake_canoeing.JPG License: Public domain Author: Jane023, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Jane023 Date: 27 July 2004 Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanchom/2963072255/ License:Creative Commons Share-Alike 2.0: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en Author: sanchom: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanchom/ Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexindigo/2539923774/ License: CC-by-A 2.0, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en Author: alexindigo, http://www.flickr.com/people/alexindigo/
  • Viewing nature : positively associated with psychological well-being Being in nature: Being in the presence of nature Active participation/involvement with nature Ulrich's hospital study, posters in workplace reduced anger and stress Neighbourhood greenness related positively to mental health Outwood bound programs found to increase self-esteem, involvement in nature doesn’t always have to be active, e.g. gardening found to be psychologically beneficial
  • Viewing nature : positively associated with psychological well-being Being in nature: Being in the presence of nature Active participation/involvement with nature Ulrich's hospital study, posters in workplace reduced anger and stress Neighbourhood greenness related positively to mental health Outwood bound programs found to increase self-esteem, involvement in nature doesn’t always have to be active, e.g. gardening found to be psychologically beneficial
  • Urbanisation: Increasing numbers of people living in urban environments and the development of theory and research about the restorative effects and benefits of nature on mental and physical well-being Psychophysiological stress recovery theory: Affective and aesthetic response to visual stimuli “ It proposes that restoration may occur if a scene elicits feelings of mild to moderate interest, pleasantness, and calm, and that whilst viewing nature, positive affect replaces negative affect resulting in lower physiological arousal (Hartig, 2004). Hartig explains that when an environment is unthreatening, aesthetically pleasing and elicits feelings of interest, restorative functioning occurs allowing a shift toward a more positive psychological state. This theory suggests that individual responses to nature have an important physiological component, impacting psychological changes (Ulrich, 1983).” (Rugendyke, 2012) Attention restoration theory: Recovery from directed attention fatigue “Kaplan and Kaplan's (1989) Attention Restoration Theory suggests that nature provides cognitive restoration by allowing attention-focusing capacities to rest. Central to this theory is directed attention whereby an individual can use voluntary control and sort unimportant from important information, minimise distraction and select appropriate focus (Kaplan, 2001). Becoming over-stimulated in urban settings may result in fatigue of directed attention and restorative environments, such as natural settings may aid in the recovery of directed attention. Thus, nature can provide a restorative experience, involving relaxation and allowing an individual to become revitalised and refreshed (Kaplan, & Kaplan, 1989; Kaplan, 2001). Kaplan suggests that four elements must be present in an environment for restoration to occur. These are: temporary escape from one’s normal environment, a sense of interest that captures attention effortlessly, engagement in surroundings whilst having coherence of being part of a larger whole and an environment that is fitting with individual preference. Consistent with this theory, psychological benefits of green exercise may arguably be affected by one’s awareness/cognitions (directed attention) of the environment and one’s preference for nature (connectedness with nature).” (Rugendyke, 2012)
  • Images are from Pretty et al. (2005).
  • Horse riding, cycling, bushwalking etc.
  • Horse riding, cycling, bushwalking etc.
  • Road cycling, Mountain running, Orienteering, Cross-country running, Boxercise, Mountain biking, Kayaking, Bushwalking
  • Exercise groups: Running, Bush walking, Casual walking, Orienteering, Soccer training Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen, Kamark & Mermelstein, 1983) Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988) Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS; Mayer & Frantz, 2004). Participant cognitions during exercise were measured using the 23-item scale adapted by Holgate (2010). This measure asked participants to rate the extent to which Associative, Dissociative, and Environmental Cognitions were engaged in. The measure included 14 items from the Attentional Focus Questionnaire (AFQ; Brewer et al., 1996).
  • Exercise groups: Running, Bush walking, Casual walking, Orienteering, Soccer training Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen, Kamark & Mermelstein, 1983) Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988) Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS; Mayer & Frantz, 2004). Participant cognitions during exercise were measured using the 23-item scale adapted by Holgate (2010). This measure asked participants to rate the extent to which Associative, Dissociative, and Environmental Cognitions were engaged in. The measure included 14 items from the Attentional Focus Questionnaire (AFQ; Brewer et al., 1996).
  • Exercise groups: Running, Bush walking, Casual walking, Orienteering, Soccer training Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen, Kamark & Mermelstein, 1983) Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark & Tellegen, 1988) Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS; Mayer & Frantz, 2004). Participant cognitions during exercise were measured using the 23-item scale adapted by Holgate (2010). This measure asked participants to rate the extent to which Associative, Dissociative, and Environmental Cognitions were engaged in. The measure included 14 items from the Attentional Focus Questionnaire (AFQ; Brewer et al., 1996).
  • Incorporate pleasant natural exercise spaces and trails into urban areas – which allow for several hours of experience and are as natural as possible.

Transcript

  • 1. The effects of green exercise on stress, anxiety and mood: The role of perceived greenness, exercise cognitions, and connection to nature James T. Neill Graham Mackay Brent Holgate Creative Commons Attribution Amy Rugendyke Public domain Centre for Applied Psychology University of Canberra47th Annual Australian Psychological Society Conference, 27-30 Sept, 2012, Perth, Western Australia 1
  • 2. Green exercise: APS 2012 paper webpageTake a photo of thisslide with a smartdevice then use aQR decoder app. Or go direct to URL: http://goo.gl/xnSXg james.neill@canberra.edu.au 2
  • 3. Overview• What is green exercise?• Effects and mechanisms of: – Exercise – Nature• Research questions• University of Essex studies• University of Canberra studies• Summary• Recommendations• Discussion 3
  • 4. What is green exercise?Physical exerciseperformed in (relatively) natural settings.
  • 5. Examples of green exercise Mountain biking Canoeing Fitness Gardening Gardening trails 5
  • 6. Exercise: Effects• 15 to 30+ min. bouts of moderate intensity aerobic exercise are associated with well-demonstrated physical and psychological health benefits (mood, anxiety, stress).• Some studies show benefits from less intense exercise. 6
  • 7. Exercise: Mechanisms• Thermogenic changes• Cardiovascular conditioning• Neurobiological (endorphins; norepinephrine)• Distraction• Mastery (self-efficacy) 7
  • 8. Nature: EffectsThere are positive physical andpsychological health benefits of:• Viewing nature (e.g., through window)• Being in presence of nature (e.g., access to green spaces)• Active participation and involvement with nature (e.g., gardening, green exercise) 8
  • 9. Nature: Mechanisms• Psycho-evolutionary theories – Biophilia hypothesis (Wilson) – Nature-deficit disorder (Louv)• Restorative theories – Psychophysiological stress recovery theory (Ulrich; Hartig) – Attention restoration theory (Kaplan & Kaplan) 9
  • 10. Green exercise: Research questions What are the effects of green exercise? How and why do any effects occur?What psychological processes are critical? 10
  • 11. Green exercise research:Jules Pretty, University of Essex http://www.julespretty.com http://greenexercise.org• Lab study (Pretty et al., 2005)• Field study (Pretty et al., 2007)• Meta-analysis (Barton & Pretty, 2010) 11
  • 12. Pretty et al.s (2005) Lab study design• N = 100 randomly allocated to: – 4 experimental group + 1 control group• 20 min. “fairly light” treadmill run whilst viewing a sequence of 30 scenes on a screen• Pre- and post-exercise physiological measures (blood pressure, heart rate) and questionnaires (self-esteem, POMS). 12
  • 13. Experimental groups: 4 types of scenes Pleasant Unpleasant Urban-Pleasant Urban-UnpleasantUrban (e.g., tall buildings (e.g., city scene with sky reflected in with broken water) windows and graffiti) Rural-Pleasant Rural-UnpleasantRural (e.g., countryside (e.g., countryside with trees and with abandoned water) car) Control group ran on treadmill with no images 13
  • 14. Pretty et al.s (2005) Lab study results• Rural pleasant group reported the most positive outcomes: – ↓ all 3 measures of blood pressure – ↑ self-esteem – ↑ Mood: • ↑ vigour • ↓ confusion-bewilderment • ↓ tension-anxiety No rural pleasant effects for Anger-Hostility, Depression-Dejection, Fatigue-Inertia 14
  • 15. Pretty et al.s (2005) Field study design & results• N = 263 from 10 pre-existing outdoor activity groups, UK• Outcomes from pre-post surveys: –↑ Mood (for 4 of 6 scales) –↑ Self-esteem• No predictive effects of: – Type of activity – Exercise intensity – Exercise duration 15
  • 16. Barton & Prettys (2010) meta-analysis results• N = 1252 from 10 UK green exercise studies. Outcomes: –↑ Self-esteem (d = .46) –↑ Mood (d = .54) –Irrespective of duration, intensity, location, gender, age, and health status.• Health benefits from any short engagement in green exercise. 16
  • 17. University of Canberra Green Exercise Studies• Psychology honours studies extending on Pretty et al.s (2007) field study: – Mackay (2008); Mackay & Neill (2010) – Holgate (2010) – Rugendyke (2012) Independent Dependent variables: – Greenness variables (pre-post): (naturalness) – Stress / anxiety – Cognitions – Mood during exercise • Positive affect – Connectedness • Negative affect to nature 17
  • 18. Mackay (2008): Design• N = 101 participants from 8 pre- existing outdoor exercise groups• Dependent variables (Pre and post) – Stress (Perceived Stress Scale; Cohen, Kamarck & Mermelstein, 1983) – Anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; Spielberger, 1983)• Independent variables – Activity Type, Duration, Intensity, Greenness 18
  • 19. The green exercise groupsIn the “bush capital” of Australia, 2008
  • 20. Duration Average = 90 minsRange = 10 to 220 mins, N = 84
  • 21. Stress10-item scale about current stress level
  • 22. Anxiety20-item scale about current anxiety level
  • 23. Greenness rating scale Rating scale aboutperceived environmental naturalness
  • 24. GreennessAverage = 8.2
  • 25. Intensity: Borg scale
  • 26. Intensity Somewhat hard HardLight Very hard Average = 14.7
  • 27. Mackay (2008): Results• Outcomes –↓ Stress (d = .38) –↓ Anxiety (d = .51)• Predictors –* Activity Type – positive effects for all except the 2 running groups –↑ Greenness – small, positive effect i.e., greener the perceived environment, greater anxiety reductions –= Duration – no effect –= Intensity – no effect 27
  • 28. Holgate (2010): Design• N = 114 from 13 indoor and outdoor exercise groups in the ACT• Dependent variables: – Mood (negative affect, vitality, happiness)• Independent variables – Cognitive strategies (associative, dissociative, environmental) – Exercise characteristics (Greenness, Socialness, Intensity, Competitiveness, Expertise, Frequency) 28
  • 29. Holgate (2010): Results• Outcomes and predictors –↓ Negative affect (d = .62) • No predictors –↑ Vitality (d = .57) • Predicted by ↑ Env. cognition (β = .24) –↑ Global happiness (d = .29) • Predicted by ↑ Intensity (β = .16) 29
  • 30. Rugendyke (2012): Design• N = 105 from 5 ACT outdoor exercise groups• Dependent variables: – Stress (PSS) – Mood (PANAS)• Independent variables: – Connectedness to nature (CNS; Mayer & Frantz, 2004) – Environmental cognition (EC) 30
  • 31. Rugendyke (2012): Results• Outcomes –↓ Stress (d = .65) –↑ Mood • ↓ Negative affect (d = .70) • ↑ Positive affect (d = .67)• Predictors –= Connected to nature – no effect –= Env. cognition – no effect –Controlled for cognitions (dissociative & associative), demographic & exercise characteristics 31
  • 32. Summary• UC studies found moderate short- term improvements in +ve and -ve indicators of psychological well- being.• Results congruent with UK green exercise research (Barton & Pretty, 2010; Pretty et al., 2005, 2007) 32
  • 33. Summary• Predictors: – ↑ Greenness – weak effect - may enhance some outcomes – ? Cognitions – weak effect – environmental cognitions may enhance some outcomes – ? Activity Type – weak, occasional effect – = Intensity – little to no effect – = Duration - no effect – = Connectedness to Nature - no effect 33
  • 34. Recommendations• Green exercise participants report psychological benefits.• Incorporate pleasant natural exercise spaces and trails into urban areas.• Further research (using a variety of methods) is needed about psychological processes that underlie green exercise effects. 34
  • 35. ReferencesCohen, J., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of healthand Social Psychology, 24, 385-396.Holgate, B. (2010). The role of cognitive strategies and green exercise characteristics as predictors ofmood effects in green exercise. Unpublished honours thesis, University of Canberra, Australia.Mackay, G. (2008). The effect of green exercise on state stress and anxiety. Unpublished honours thesis,University of Canberra, Australia.Mackay, G. J. S., & Neill, J. T. (2010). The effect of “green exercise” on state anxiety and the role ofexercise duration, intensity, and greenness: A quasi-experimental study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise,11, 238-245.Mayer, F. S., & Frantz, C. M. (2004). The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals feelingin community with nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 24, 503-515. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2004.10.001Neill, J. T. (2009). Green exercise: The psychological effects of exercising in nature. Presentation to theAnnual Outdoor Recreation Industry Council Conference, August 15-16, SydneyPretty, J., Peacock, J., Sellens, M., & Griffen, M. (2005). The mental and physical health outcomes of greenexercise. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 15, 319-337.Pretty, J., Peacock, J., Hine, R., Sellens, M., South, N., & Griffen, M. (2007). Green exercise in the UKcountryside: Effects on health and psychological well-being, and implications for policy and planning.Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 50, 211-231.Rugendyke, A. (2012). Green exercise, stress and mood: The role of connectedness to nature andenvironmental cognition. Unpublished honours thesis, University of Canberra, Australia.Spielberger, C. D. (1983). State-trait anxiety inventory for adults: Sample set, manual, test, scoring key.California: Mind Garden. 35