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Green exercise in the UK countryside: Effects on health and psychological well-being, and implications for policy and planning
Abstract and Figures
There is evidence that contact with the natural environment and green space promotes good health. It is also well known that participation in regular physical activity generates physical and psychological health benefits. 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. Even though these participants were generally an active and healthy group, it was found that green exercise led to a significant improvement in self-esteem and total mood disturbance (with anger-hostility, confusion-bewilderment, depression-dejection and tension-anxiety all improving post-activity). Self-esteem and mood were found not to be affected by the type, intensity or duration of the green exercise, as the results were similar for all 10 case studies. Thus all these activities generated mental health benefits, indicating the potential for a wider health and well-being dividend from green exercise. Green exercise thus has important implications for public and environmental health, and for a wide range of policy sectors.
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