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Green exercise in the UK countryside: Effects on health and psychological well-being, and implications for policy and planning

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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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... NOE encompass geographical areas characterized by minimal human presence or intervention (e.g., forests), but can include land use areas where human intrusion has occurred (e.g., parks, sports fields, etc.) [13,14]. Support for the positive effects of performing PA in the NOE has been proposed, including boredom relief [15], lower perceived exertion [16], higher self-esteem and improved mood [12,17]. Furthermore, the beneficial effects of PA in the NOE on wellbeing may be obtained following a single bout [18]. ...
... Furthermore, the beneficial effects of PA in the NOE on wellbeing may be obtained following a single bout [18]. Overall, previous reviews of the literature focusing on PA in the NOE provide evidence favoring greater wellbeing from engagement in these contexts [12,16,17,19], although provide equivocal support for PA in the NOE compared with indoor contexts for enhanced wellbeing [16,18]. Careful inspection of the published research focused on PA in the NOE provided the impetus for this study. ...
... The electronic searches resulted in 1067 primary studies, with 19 studies [17,[33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49] meeting all inclusion criteria after full-text inspection for the main aim of this meta-analysis (see Figure S1). Five studies [39,40,45,47,49] met all inclusion criteria for the secondary aim of this meta-analysis. ...
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... Greenery A. Greenery visibility The extent to which pedestrians on the street perceive green landscape elements [71]; exposure to green space can improve mental health [72,73]. ...
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