Research: physical activity outdoors
Reports & research documents are, as much as possible, arranged in chronological order, most recent at the top
Moved by Nature in Finland
Fun, meaningful, and health-enhancing physical activities for school children The Moved by Nature Project took a group of 9-12-year-olds on 3 nature activity days over 3 different seasons. An analysis of the children’s views about what they most enjoyed found meaningful experiences in 3 areas: freedom, autonomy and adventure, inspiring learning experiences, and co-operation and connectedness with peers. LOtC, 3 July 2019. Details on the aims & objectives, funding etc of the project here, from Metsähallitus 2 July 2019 2 videos about the project can be found in the videos section of Information/sustainability & nature.
Impact: How we started the green exercise revolution
"Our pioneering green exercise research has captured the interest of people around the world." The University of Essex has been researching the concept of Green Exercise for 14 years, coining the term in 2003, with expertise in exercise physiology, health & well-being, environmental sustainability, community engagement, behaviour change.
Combating Obesity in Head Start: Outdoor Play and Change in Children’s Body Mass Index
‘Outdoor play time at Head Start is associated with decreases in children’s BMI scores and, thus, may serve as an important means of preventing obesity. Head Start programs should consider establishing clear guidelines encouraging more outdoor time.’ NCBI (US), October 2015.
How Walking in Nature Prevents Depression
A study finds that wild environments boost well-being by reducing obsessive, negative thoughts. The Atlantic, 30 June 2015.
Did you know?
A collection of stats on the benefits of physical activity for children, from the Outdoor Classroom Project, c2015.
Influence of Forest Therapy on Cardiovascular Relaxation in Young Adults
A study of young men in Japan finding that “Walking in the forest environment may promote cardiovascular relaxation by facilitating the parasympathetic nervous system and by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, forest therapy may be effective for reducing negative psychological symptoms.” Hindawi, 10 February 2014.
Easing Brain Fatigue With a Walk in the Park
‘An innovative new study from Scotland suggests that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a leafy park. Well, New York Times (US) 27 March 2013.
A Repeated Measures Experiment of Green Exercise to Improve Self-Esteem in UK School Children
“Exercising in natural, green environments creates greater improvements in adult’s self-esteem than exercise undertaken in urban or indoor settings. No comparable data are available for children. The aim of this study was to determine whether so called ‘green exercise’ affected changes in self-esteem; enjoyment and perceived exertion in children differently to urban exercise.” julespretty.com, 2013.
Benefits of outdoor exercise confirmed
‘A systematic review has analyzed existing studies and concluded that there are benefits to mental and physical well-being from taking exercise in the natural environment.’ Science Daily, 5 February 2011.
Stepping Outdoors Boosts Mood, Self-Esteem
Why 5 min of exercise is all you need. A report from researchers at the UK’s University of Essex analyzed 10 studies that involved over 1200 participants, examining the self-esteem and mood benefits of “green exercise” – that is, some activity outdoors, in the presence of trees, an open sky, water, a garden, or other natural scenery. Psychology Today, 11 May 2010.
What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health?
A Multi-Study Analysis. This multistudy analysis assessed the best regime of dose(s) of acute exposure to green exercise required to improve self-esteem and mood (indicators of mental health). julespretty.com, 2010.
Using nature and outdoor activity to improve children’s health
‘This article reviews the current evidence of the mental and physical health benefits associated with unstructured, outdoor activities and time spent in a natural environment such as a park or other recreational area.’ Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care, 2010 (registration needed for access to full article).
The health benefits of walking in green spaces of high natural & heritage value
“This study focuses on evaluating changes in selfesteem and mood after walking in four different National Trust sites of natural and heritage value in the East of England. The standardised measures of both self-esteem and mood were administered immediately pre- and post-activity. Selfesteem scores for visitors leaving the sites were significantly higher than those just arriving and overall mood also significantly improved…” julespretty.com, 2009.
Outdoor Recreation, Health, and Wellness
Understanding and Enhancing the Relationship ‘Considers how being outside in natural surroundings may improve health and how outdoor physical activities benefit participants. Particular attention is given to children’s health problems that can be mitigated through outdoor play, sports, and nature study.’ Geoffrey Godbey, 2009, Resources for the Future (US).
Green exercise in the UK countryside
Effects on health and psychological well-being, and implications for policy and planning. “The authors have hypothesised that ‘green exercise’ will improve health and psychological well-being, yet few studies have quantified these effects. This study measured the effects of 10 green exercise case studies (including walking, cycling, horse-riding, fishing, canal-boating and conservation activities) in four regions of the UK on 263 participants…” julespretty.com, 2006.
Resurrecting Free Play in Young Children
Looking Beyond Fitness and Fatness to Attention, Affiliation, and Affect. “Our purpose in this article is to demonstrate why play, and particularly active, unstructured, outdoor play, needs to be restored in children’s lives. We propose that efforts to increase physical activity in young children might be more successful if physical activity is promoted using different language—encouraging play—and if a different set of outcomes are emphasized—aspects of child well-being other than physical health.” The JAMA Network, January 2005.
The mental and physical health outcomes of green exercise
Both physical activity and exposure to nature are known separately to have positive effects on physical and mental health. We have investigated whether there is a synergistic benefit in adopting physical activities whilst being directly exposed to nature (‘green exercise’). julespretty.com, 2005.