added 2 research items
Go Green Initiative: Going Outdoors: Gathering Research Evidence on Emotions and Nature
Natural environments have been shown to trigger psychological and physiological restoration in humans. A new framework regarding natural environments restorative properties is proposed. Conditioned restoration theory builds on a classical conditioning paradigm, postulating the occurrence of four stages: (i) unconditioned restoration, unconditioned positive affective responses reliably occur in a given environment (such as in a natural setting); (ii) restorative conditioning, the positive affective responses become conditioned to the environment; (iii) conditioned restoration, subsequent exposure to the environment, in the absence of the unconditioned stimulus, retrieves the same positive affective responses; and (iv) stimulus generalization, subsequent exposure to associated environmental cues retrieves the same positive affective responses. The process, hypothetically not unique to natural environments, involve the well-documented phenomenon of conditioning, retrieval, and association and relies on evaluative conditioning, classical conditioning, core affect, and conscious expectancy. Empirical findings showing that restoration can occur in non-natural environments and through various sensory stimuli, as well as findings demonstrating that previous negative experience with nature can subsequently lower restorative effects, are also presented in support of the theory. In integration with other existing theories, the theory should prove to be a valuable framework for future research.
The salutogenic effects of green exercise are widely recognised, yet many individuals do not engage in this health-related behaviour. Using a convergent mixed methods approach, this study explored the impact of Immersive Virtual Nature (IVN) on the decision-making process relating to green exercise. Three experimental trials were conducted (overall n = 136), in which healthy adults were exposed to different types of IVN reproducing an existing urban green area. Participants reported medium-high rating of intent to visit the location. Significant pre-to-post increments in future green exercise intention were observed after the IVN exposure, though a significance difference was not achieved in comparison with control. Qualitative analysis revealed the impact of IVNs on behaviour regulation, and highlighted the pivotal role of anticipated emotional benefits. Despite scepticism regarding the IVN experience, it was effective in arousing curiosity to explore natural environments, which was associated with environmental perceptions, nostalgic and socio-cultural perspectives.
In launching this Research Topic, our objective was to capture contemporary perspectives on the conceptualization and measurement of human-nature interactions, and advance future research perspectives. The ubiquitous nature of the challenge is exemplified by a diverse and expansive list of countries of our contributors, which ranges among 15 different countries including Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. Twenty articles were included in the collection. These included an array of approaches, with nine original research articles, two brief research report articles, four perspective articles, two reviews, and three systematic reviews. Many provide novel viewpoints in our understanding of human-nature interactions, in relation to both, the effects of being in contact with nature and potential underlying mechanisms explaining the relationship.
"Research has shown that people with a greater sense of vitality don't just have more energy for things they want to do, they are also more resilient to physical illnesses. One of the pathways to health may be to spend more time in natural settings. “ Richard M. Ryan
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” William James The concept of ‘Blue Mind’ coined by Wallace J. Nichols (2014) which has popularized water-based activities as a pathway to well-being and health provides a fitting backdrop for this chapter. The term refers to a “mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peace, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment” (p.6). Researchers have been concerned with the impact of being close to water on different scales. For example, Bluehealth2020 (www.bluehealth2020.eu) is a pan-European research project investigating the links between environment, climate and health with a specific focus on blue-natural spaces (Grellier et al., 2017). Their findings from their PRISMA methodology systematic review of 35 studies suggested a positive association between greater exposure to outdoor blue spaces and both benefits to mental health and well-being and levels of physical activity (N=13 studies). Support for benefits to general health including cardiovascular health was less prominent and the findings were highly limited by the heterogeneity among the published studies (Gascon et al.,2017). Further evidence, suggests that in the UK up to 270m recreational visits are made to marine environments in England annually, with walking a predominant activity on beaches (Elliot et al., 2018). This is significant as almost half of the EU population lives less than 50 km from the sea and the majority is concentrated in urban areas along the coast water (Eurostat, 2011). In its many forms, water and blue natural space is largely accessible with vast potential for the promotion of sustainable recreation, restoration and well-being. EU research continues to emerge in this domain with the advent of the SOPHIE (Seas, Oceans & Public Health in Europe www.sophie2020.eu) project, for example, as part of a nomothetic approach.
Mental health in the workplace is a societal challenge with serious economical and human costs. Most prevalent mental disorders in the workforce (e.g., depression), however, are preventable. There is widespread agreement about the favorable effects of nature exposure and consequently, nature-based interventions (NBI) in the workplace have been proposed as a cost-effective approach to promote good health among employees. The objective of the present study was to systematically review scientific evidence on the effectiveness of NBI to promote mental health and well-being among actual employees in actual workplace settings. The review was conducted and presented in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines. The literature search was performed on five databases (PubMed, Embase, CENTRAL, CINHAL and PsycINFO), hand-searching of field-specific journals, and the reference lists of retrieved papers over the past five years up to November (13th, 2018). Studies were eligible for inclusion if they: 1) were randomized or non-randomized controlled trials; 2) comprised samples of actual employees; 3) implemented a workplace-based intervention with exposure to nature; 4) included comparison conditions that displayed a clear contrast to NBIs; and 5) investigated the quantitative effects on mental health or well-being. No restrictions on type of employees or workplace, publication period, or language of the publication were set. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane’s RoB2 tool. Narrative synthesis was performed due to large heterogeneity in outcome variables. Of the 510 articles identified, 10 NBIs (9 papers) met the eligibility criteria. The outcomes were grouped in five categories: a) mental health indices, b) cognitive ability, c) recovery and restoration, d) work and life satisfaction, and e) psychophysiological indicators. Narrative synthesis indicates consistently positive effects on mental health indices and cognitive ability, while mixed results were found for the other outcome categories. Caution must be given when interpreting the current evidence in this emerging research field because of the diversity of NBIs and the overall high risk of bias in the individual studies. Although in this field often researchers have to balance scientific rigor and ecological validity, there is a need for large, well-designed and rigorously conducted trials grounded in contemporary theories.
Being exposed to natural environments is associated with improved health and well-being, as these environments are believed to promote feelings of "being away" from everyday struggles, positive emotional reactions and stress reduction. Despite these positive effects, humanity is becoming increasingly more distanced from nature due to societal changes, such as increased urbanization and the reduced accessibility of natural environments. Technology is also partly to blame, as research suggests that people replace nature contact with increased screen time. In this cross-section between nature and technology, we find technological nature which is progressing towards a point where we may be capable of simulating exposure to real nature. Concerns have been raised regarding this technology, as it is feared it will replace real nature. However, research suggests that virtual nature may have a more positive impact on society than a mere replacement of real nature, and this review propose several areas where virtual nature may be a beneficial addition to actual nature (Enable), help people reconnect with the real natural world (Reconnect) and "boost" human-nature interactions (Augment). Based on the current research and theoretical framework, this review proposes guidelines for future research within these areas, with the aim of advancing the field by producing high quality research.
This multi-case study approach explores nature connectedness, resilience and attitudes towards the environment and sustainability among extreme sport performers. Uniquely, the participants in order to be advocates for sustainable sporting activity waived their anonymity. The achievements of the sample include channel swims, summitting Everest, ski-flying, big wave surfing and first descent kayaking.
Traditionally, perceptions about extreme sport athletes being disconnected from nature and a risk-taking population have permeated the research literature. Drawing upon theoretical perspectives from environmental, sport, organizational and positive psychology, this qualitative study attempts to explore the lived experiences of four male and four female extreme sport athletes. The purpose of this study was to gain insight and understanding into the individuals’ attitudes toward the benefits of extreme sport activities for well-being, resilience and pro-environmental behavior. Eight participants (Mean age = 40.5 years; SD = ± 12.9) provided written informed consent to partake in semi-structured interviews. Each athlete provided written consented to allow the publication of their identifiable data and in order to facilitate sharing of their autobiographical account of their experiences. After conducting thematic analysis, meta-themes that emerged from the analyses were as follows: (a) early childhood experiences, (b) the challenge of the outdoors, (c) their emotional response to nature, (d) nature for coping, (e) restorative spaces, and (f) environmental concern. The findings convey great commonalities across the participants with regard to their mindset, their emotional well-being as well as their connectivity with nature and attitudes toward the natural environment. The cognitive-affective-social-behavioral linkage of the benefits of extreme sport participation for well-being, psychological recovery and pro-environmental behavior are highlighted. This study examining the lived experiences of extreme sportspeople provides a novel contribution to our contemporary understanding of extreme athletes’ relationship to nature and its commensurate impact upon well-being and pro-environmental attitudes. The findings suggest that extreme sport participation, while inherently risky has psychological benefits ranging from evoking positive emotions, developing resilience and life coping skills to cultivating strong affinity to and connection with nature and the natural environment.
- Ian Lahart
- Patricia Darcy
- Christopher Gidlow
- Giovanna Calogiuri
We aimed to examine the evidence for the proposed additive effect of exercise in the presence of nature (green exercise) by systematically reviewing studies that investigated the effects of outdoor or virtual green exercise compared with indoor exercise. Our review updates an earlier review, whose searches were conducted in April 2010. Trials were eligible if: (a) participants in an outdoor or virtual exercise condition were exposed to views of nature (green exercise); (b) green exercise was compared with indoor exercise with no exposure to nature; (c) included an outcome related to physical or mental health; (d) used comparative or crossover trial design. We searched the following databases from 1st January 2010 to 28th June 2018: PubMed, CENTRAL, EMBASE, PsycINFO, GreenFile, and Sports DISCUS. We assessed risk of bias using the Cochrane “risk of bias” tool. Where possible we conducted a meta-analysis using the inverse variance random-effects method, and where this approach was not possible we presented the results qualitatively and in harvest plots. We identified 28 eligible trials. In a meta-analysis of just three longitudinal trials, the only statistical finding was slightly lower post-intervention perceived exertion with green versus indoor exercise (mean difference: −1.02; 95% confidence intervals: −1.88, −0.16). Compared with indoor exercise, acute bouts of outdoor green exercise may favorably influence affective valence and enjoyment, but not emotion, perceived exertion, exercise intensity, and biological markers. No other consistent statistical differences were observed, apart from a higher enjoyment of outdoor green versus virtual green exercise. We found a high risk of bias across trials and an overall low quality of evidence. In conclusion, there was limited evidence to support the view that green exercise offers superior benefits to exercise without exposure to nature. The low quality of evidence prohibits clear interpretation of trial findings. Future robust and rigorously designed trials are needed to evaluate the effects of long-term and multiple-bout exposure to nature during exercise compared with exercise indoors.
This paper considers the environmental impact on well-being and performance in elite athletes during Olympic competition. The benefits of exercising in natural environments are recognised, but less is known about the effects on performance and health in elite athletes. Although some Olympic events take place in natural environments, the majority occur in the host city, usually a large densely populated area where low exposure to natural environments is compounded by exposure to high levels of air, water and noise pollution in the ambient environment. By combining methods and expertise from diverse but inter-related disciplines including environmental psychology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, environmental science and epidemiology, a transdisciplinary approach will facilitate a greater understanding of the effects of the environment on Olympic athletes.
Green exercise is defined as undertaking physical activity whilst being directly exposed to nature (Pretty et al., 2005; 2007). Pretty et al. (2003) were among the first wave of researchers to investigate the synergistic benefits of incorporating physical activity and exposure to the natural environment to produce positive psychological affect. Over the past decade, investigations into the possible additive effects on well-being of green exercise and how it can be used as an influential tool to help combat the rising rate of both physical inactivity and non –communicable disease has gained prominence in scientific literature. However, there is still a need to investigate the mechanisms behind observed health benefits of the natural environment and to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of environmental components and how this has potential to improve wellbeing and increase autonomous motivation in physical activity in a community setting. The research project GoGreenEx (Going Outdoors: Gathering Research Evidence on ENvironment and Exercise) aims to build engagement between expert researchers across interdisciplinary perspectives (psychology, physiology, biomechanics, environmental sciences and physical activity) and societal groups, both from the charity sector (Mental Health Ireland-a charity that promotes positive mental health) and the sporting domain (Local Sport Partnerships and commercial entities-e.g., Clarisford Park). This novel research in the field of public health will use the natural laboratory of Clarisford Park to study the impacts and underlying processes that surround green exercise and further add to our understanding of its potential effects on population health and well-being.