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James Neill Centre for Applied  Psychology University of Canberra Green Exercise: The psychological effects of exercising ...
Do not try this at home
Overview <ul><li>What is green exercise?
Effects of nature
Effects of exercise
Green exercise research
Future directions </li></ul>
What is green exercise? Physical exercise   performed in (relatively) natural settings .
Examples of green exercise
Examples of green exercise
Examples of green exercise
What about your green exercise? <ul><li>What kind of green exercise do you participate in? Type of activity? For how long?...
What happens to you when you participate in green exercise.
What do you like / not like about green exercise?
How does a green experience differ (if at all) from other exercise?
How much and what type of green exercise would you ideally like to do? What would be your 'ideal' green exercise experience?
What are the barriers to you doing more green exercise? </li></ul>7. When you do do green exercise, what makes this possib...
Effects of exercise <ul><li>15 to 30 minute plus bouts of moderate intensity aerobic exercise are associated with well-dem...
But some studies show benefits from less intense exercise. </li></ul>
Mechanisms for exercise effects <ul><li>Mastery (self-efficacy)
Distraction
Neurobiological (endorphins; norepinephrine)
Thermogenic changes
Cardiovascular conditioning </li></ul>
Effects of nature <ul><li>Viewing nature
Being in presence of nature / nature contact
Active participation and involvement with nature </li></ul>
Mechanisms for nature effects <ul><li>Nature-deficit disorder / psycho-evolutionary theory
Restorative theories </li><ul><li>Psychophysiological stress recovery theory: Affective and aesthetic response to visual s...
Attention restoration theory: Recovery from directed attention fatigue  </li></ul></ul>
Effects of green exercise? Are there  synergistic  benefits from participating in physical activities whilst at the same t...
Green exercise research studies: Jules Pretty http://www.julespretty.com
Green exercise research: Pretty et al.'s (2005) treadmill study <ul><li>100 participants: 4 experimental groups and 1 cont...
Participants run on a treadmill for 20 minutes whilst viewing a range of rural or urban scenes displayed on a screen and c...
Green exercise research: Pretty et al.'s (2005) treadmill study Pleasant Unpleasant Urban Urban-Pleasant Urban-Unpleasant ...
<ul><li>All groups reduced blood pressure and increased self-esteem.
Pleasant scene groups improved mood and  self-esteem.
Only those who viewed  rural pleasant  scenes reported reductions in all 3 measures of blood pressure </li></ul>Green exer...
<ul><li>10 pre-existing outdoor activity groups
Mood and self-esteem improved pre- to post-activity
No sig. effects of: </li><ul><li>Type of activity
Exercise intensity
Exercise duration </li></ul></ul>Green exercise research: Pretty et al.'s (2007) field study
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Green exercise: The psychological effects of exercising in nature

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Theory and research about the psychological effects of physical exercise in natural environments.

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Green exercise: The psychological effects of exercising in nature

  1. 1. James Neill Centre for Applied Psychology University of Canberra Green Exercise: The psychological effects of exercising in nature Outdoor Recreation Industry Council Annual Conference August 14-15, 2009
  2. 2. Do not try this at home
  3. 3. Overview <ul><li>What is green exercise?
  4. 4. Effects of nature
  5. 5. Effects of exercise
  6. 6. Green exercise research
  7. 7. Future directions </li></ul>
  8. 8. What is green exercise? Physical exercise performed in (relatively) natural settings .
  9. 9. Examples of green exercise
  10. 10. Examples of green exercise
  11. 11. Examples of green exercise
  12. 12. What about your green exercise? <ul><li>What kind of green exercise do you participate in? Type of activity? For how long? Location? Intensity? Alone? Naturalness? Formal or informal?
  13. 13. What happens to you when you participate in green exercise.
  14. 14. What do you like / not like about green exercise?
  15. 15. How does a green experience differ (if at all) from other exercise?
  16. 16. How much and what type of green exercise would you ideally like to do? What would be your 'ideal' green exercise experience?
  17. 17. What are the barriers to you doing more green exercise? </li></ul>7. When you do do green exercise, what makes this possible? (What are the enablers?)
  18. 18. Effects of exercise <ul><li>15 to 30 minute plus bouts of moderate intensity aerobic exercise are associated with well-demonstrated physical and psychological health benefits (mood, anxiety, stress).
  19. 19. But some studies show benefits from less intense exercise. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Mechanisms for exercise effects <ul><li>Mastery (self-efficacy)
  21. 21. Distraction
  22. 22. Neurobiological (endorphins; norepinephrine)
  23. 23. Thermogenic changes
  24. 24. Cardiovascular conditioning </li></ul>
  25. 25. Effects of nature <ul><li>Viewing nature
  26. 26. Being in presence of nature / nature contact
  27. 27. Active participation and involvement with nature </li></ul>
  28. 28. Mechanisms for nature effects <ul><li>Nature-deficit disorder / psycho-evolutionary theory
  29. 29. Restorative theories </li><ul><li>Psychophysiological stress recovery theory: Affective and aesthetic response to visual stimuli
  30. 30. Attention restoration theory: Recovery from directed attention fatigue </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Effects of green exercise? Are there synergistic benefits from participating in physical activities whilst at the same time being directly exposed to nature?
  32. 32. Green exercise research studies: Jules Pretty http://www.julespretty.com
  33. 33. Green exercise research: Pretty et al.'s (2005) treadmill study <ul><li>100 participants: 4 experimental groups and 1 control group
  34. 34. Participants run on a treadmill for 20 minutes whilst viewing a range of rural or urban scenes displayed on a screen and complete a number of questionnaires pre- and post-exercise. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Green exercise research: Pretty et al.'s (2005) treadmill study Pleasant Unpleasant Urban Urban-Pleasant Urban-Unpleasant Rural Rural-Pleasant Rural-Unpleasnat
  36. 36. <ul><li>All groups reduced blood pressure and increased self-esteem.
  37. 37. Pleasant scene groups improved mood and self-esteem.
  38. 38. Only those who viewed rural pleasant scenes reported reductions in all 3 measures of blood pressure </li></ul>Green exercise research: Pretty et al.'s (2007) treadmill study
  39. 39. <ul><li>10 pre-existing outdoor activity groups
  40. 40. Mood and self-esteem improved pre- to post-activity
  41. 41. No sig. effects of: </li><ul><li>Type of activity
  42. 42. Exercise intensity
  43. 43. Exercise duration </li></ul></ul>Green exercise research: Pretty et al.'s (2007) field study
  44. 44. Aim of the current study <ul><li>Partially replicate and extend Pretty et al.'s (2007) field study
  45. 45. Examine the effects of green exercise on stress and anxiety
  46. 46. Examine the impact of: </li><ul><li>Type of exercise
  47. 47. Exercise duration
  48. 48. Exercise intensity
  49. 49. Greenness (naturalness) </li></ul></ul>
  50. 50. Method <ul><li>101 participants from 8 pre-existing outdoor exercise groups </li><ul><li>Road cycling, Mountain running, Orienteering, Cross-country running, Boxercise, Mountain biking, Kayaking, Bushwalking </li></ul><li>PSS (stress) and STAI (anxiety)
  51. 51. Borg Scale used to measure intensity </li></ul>
  52. 52. The green exercise groups In the “bush capital” of Australia, 2008
  53. 53. Stress 10-item scale about current stress level
  54. 54. Anxiety 20-item scale about current anxiety level
  55. 55. Greenness rating scale Rating scale about perceived environmental naturalness
  56. 56. Duration Range = 10 to 220 mins, N = 84 Average = 90 mins
  57. 57. Ideal duration Much About Much shorter the same longer Ideally, would you preferred for this experience to have been? 37% longer 4% shorter 59% same
  58. 58. Intensity: Borg scale
  59. 59. Intensity Light Hard Very hard Somewhat hard Average = 14.7
  60. 60. Ideal intensity Much About Much less the same more Ideally, would you have preferred this experience to have been? 62% more 4% less 34% same
  61. 61. Greeness Average = 8.2
  62. 62. Ideal greeness 0% 50% 100% Natural Natural Natural What degree of naturalness would you have preferred? 93% more 0% less 7% same
  63. 63. Anxiety & stress <ul><li>Overall, moderate sig. reductions in stress and anxiety levels following green exercise ( d = .47).
  64. 64. Similar results for stress and anxiety </li></ul>
  65. 65. Changes in anxiety by group No change
  66. 66. Effects of predictors <ul><li>Duration and intensity were not associated with changes in stress and anxiety.
  67. 67. Greenness was sig. negatively related to change in anxiety, </li><ul><li>i.e., the greener the perceived environment, the greater the reported anxiety reductions
  68. 68. a small, sig. effect </li></ul></ul>
  69. 69. Discussion <ul><li>There are positive outcomes for most groups, however the two running groups did not appear to reduce stress or anxiety perhaps due to the high intensity and somewhat competitive nature of the exercise. </li></ul>
  70. 70. Discussion <ul><li>Overall, results are congruent with Pretty et al.’s (2005, 2007), indicating green exercise has positive effects on psychological well-being irrespective of duration or intensity.
  71. 71. Perceived greenness and pleasantness helped to explain anxiety reductions. </li></ul>
  72. 72. Discussion <ul><li>Participants reported that they would have preferred longer, more intense exercise experiences in more natural environments. </li></ul>
  73. 73. Recommendations <ul><li>Incorporate pleasant natural exercise spaces and trails into urban areas – which allow for several hours of experience and are as natural as possible.
  74. 74. Further test the relative contributions of exercise, nature, and synergistic effects of green exercise. </li></ul>
  75. 75. Future of green exercise <ul><li>Green prescriptions
  76. 76. Green gyms
  77. 77. Vitamin G </li></ul>
  78. 78. Limitations <ul><li>Sample: Participants were already engaged in green exercise – self-selected, may not be representative of the general population.
  79. 79. Subjectivity of self-ratings </li></ul>
  80. 80. Future directions <ul><li>Larger, more diverse sample
  81. 81. Indoor vs. outdoor exercise
  82. 82. Experimental design
  83. 83. Other psychological outcomes?
  84. 84. Psychological processes?
  85. 85. Long-term effects of sustained green exercise participation?
  86. 86. Qualitative </li></ul>
  87. 87. More information <ul><li>Green exercise (Wikiversity) </li></ul>
  88. 88. References Mackay, G. J. S., & Neill, J. T. (2009). The effect of “green exercise” on state anxiety and the role of exercise duration, intensity, and greenness: A quasi-experimental study . Manuscript submitted for publication. Pretty, J., Peacock, J., Sellens, M., & Griffen, M. (2005). The mental and physical health outcomes of green exercise. 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 UK countryside: Effects on health and psychological well-being, and implications for policy and planning. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management , 50 , 211-231.

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