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Psychological Benefits of Walking: Moderation by Company and Outdoor Environment

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Background: We aimed to assess moderation of affective and cognitive effects of a brisk walk by urban environmental characteristics and the immediate social context. Methods: We conducted a field experiment with time (pre-walk, post-walk), type of environment (park, street), and social context (alone, with a friend) as within-subjects factors. Twenty university students reported on affective states and completed a symbol-substitution test before and after each of two 40-minute walks in each environment. The routes differed in amount of greenery, proximity to water, and presence of traffic, buildings, and other people. Results: On average, walking per se increased positive affect and reduced negative affect. Feelings of time pressure declined to a greater extent with the park walk than the street walk. Revitalisation increased during the park walks to a greater degree when alone, but it increased more during the walk along streets when with a friend. We found an inconclusive pattern of results for performance on the symbol-substitution test. Conclusions: Some psychological benefits of a brisk walk depend on the influence of the immediate social context and features of the outdoor urban environment, including natural features such as greenery and water.
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Psychological Benefits of Walking: Moderation by
Company and Outdoor Environmentaphw_1051 261..280
Marcus Johansson and Terry Hartig*
Uppsala University, Sweden
Henk Staats
Leiden University, The Netherlands
Background: We aimed to assess moderation of affective and cognitive effects of
a brisk walk by urban environmental characteristics and the immediate social
context. Methods: We conducted a field experiment with time (pre-walk, post-
walk), type of environment (park, street), and social context (alone, with a
friend) as within-subjects factors. Twenty university students reported on affec-
tive states and completed a symbol-substitution test before and after each of
two 40-minute walks in each environment. The routes differed in amount of
greenery, proximity to water, and presence of traffic, buildings, and other
people. Results: On average, walking per se increased positive affect and
reduced negative affect. Feelings of time pressure declined to a greater extent
with the park walk than the street walk. Revitalisation increased during the
park walks to a greater degree when alone, but it increased more during the
walk along streets when with a friend. We found an inconclusive pattern of
results for performance on the symbol-substitution test. Conclusions: Some
psychological benefits of a brisk walk depend on the influence of the immediate
social context and features of the outdoor urban environment, including
natural features such as greenery and water.
Keywords: affect, attention, natural environment, physical activity, psycho-
logical restoration, urban environment
INTRODUCTION
Exercise invariably occurs in an environment, and environments vary in
the degree to which they support particular activities. The realisation of
* Address for correspondence: Terry Hartig, Institute for Housing and Urban Research,
Uppsala University, Box 785, SE-80129 Gävle, Sweden. Email: terry.hartig@ibf.uu.se
This study was the basis of Marcus Johansson’s master’s thesis in psychology. Marcus died
under tragic circumstances before we could complete this article as planned. This article is
dedicated to his memory and to his family. The surviving authors report no conflicts of interest.
APPLIED PSYCHOLOGY: HEALTH AND WELL-BEING, 2011, 3(3), 261–280
doi:10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01051.x
© 2011 The Authors. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being © 2011 The International
Association of Applied Psychology. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 9600 Garsington
Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
immediate psychological benefits from exercise thus depends in part on the
environment in which it is performed. Recognising this, researchers have
sought to assess the degree of contingency. Some studies have focused on
moderation by social aspects of environments, as with comparisons of change
in affective states with exercise performed alone or with supportive others
(e.g. McAuley, Blissmer, Katula, & Duncan, 2000; Plante, Coscarelli, &
Ford, 2001). Other studies have focused on broader aspects of environments
as moderators of benefits, as with exercise indoors versus outdoors (e.g. Hug,
Hansmann, Monn, Krütli, & Seeland, 2008; Kerr et al., 2006). In the present
study, we integrate these lines of inquiry; we assess the interactive effects of
the immediate social context and the broader socio-physical environment on
changes in affective states and cognition that occur with exercise.
We focus on brisk walking as the form of exercise. It is a common type of
moderate-intensity activity that can be performed in a wide range of settings.
It imposes low demands with regard to expert ability, equipment, prepara-
tion, and knowledge. Citing a report by the US Surgeon General (USDHHS,
1996), Ekkekakis, Hall, van Landuyt, and Petruzello (2000) note that walking
is a highly popular form of health-oriented physical activity. As they dem-
onstrated in a series of experiments, brisk walks of short duration can tem-
porarily enhance subjective well-being. In that people find walking enjoyable,
they may be motivated to do it regularly, and more so than with more intense
activities. In keeping with this motivational picture, health authorities
recommend regular brisk walking as a moderate-intensity activity through
which people can maintain their physical health (e.g. Haskell et al., 2007).
For further discussion of the intensity–affect–adherence causal chain, see
Ekkekakis, Backhouse, Gray, and Lind (2008).
With its interest in the context and motivation for brisk walking, this study
addresses a significant practical concern related to urban health. The popu-
lations of many countries have increasingly concentrated in and around cities,
so that a majority of people today live in urban areas (United Nations, 2002).
Public health authorities recognise that some urban outdoor environments
discourage physical activity, including walking for recreation and transport
(Frumkin, Frank, & Jackson, 2004). Because a lack of physical activity may
manifest in poor physical and mental health, researchers have sought to
identify the characteristics of urban environments that discourage versus
promote walking. Aesthetic amenities in the residential context, such as the
presence of greenery and close proximity to parks, appear to attract people to
walking for recreation and exercise (De Vries et al., 2011). Many urbanites do
not have ready access to suitable parks, and they may have to walk for
recreation and exercise along city streets. Intervening on the immediate social
context may offset some deficits in the urban environment as a place for
walking; walking along city streets may become more attractive if one has
company (Staats & Hartig, 2004). Of interest in this regard, Wendel-Vos,
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Association of Applied Psychology.
Droomers, Kremers, Brug, and van Lenthe (2007) systematically reviewed
observational studies on determinants of physical activity, and they found
that having a companion was convincingly associated with physical activities
such as neighborhood walking.
In studying the joint effects of the immediate social context and the urban
outdoor environment, we focus here on affective and cognitive changes that
are characteristic of psychological restoration. We do so for two reasons.
First, outcomes such as reduction of stress and anxiety constitute a major
category of much-studied exercise benefits with important implications for
physical and mental health in the long run (e.g. Martinsen & Raglin, 2007).
Second, complementary bodies of theory and empirical research indicate
how urban streets and parks can have opposed effects on the realisation of
restorative benefits with walking. On the one hand, research on environmental
stress indicates that common urban conditions such as noise and crowding can
overwhelm the capacity to direct attention and engender negative emotions
(e.g. Evans & Cohen, 1987). An information-overload model of the effects and
after-effects of such conditions assumes that people have a limited capacity to
focus or direct their attention, and that the demand imposed on that capacity
is a function of the complexity, predictability, and controllability of incoming
information (e.g. Cohen, 1978; Evans & Cohen, 1987; Milgram, 1970).
Because of the attentional demands of monitoring vehicles, signs, and other
people, and the aversiveness of noise, potential threats, and other conditions,
urban streets may counteract psychological benefits of walking per se.
On the other hand, research on restorative environments has addressed
how urban parks and other natural-appearing environments support restor-
ative processes. Attention restoration theory (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989;
Kaplan, 1995) explains how the renewal of a depleted capacity to direct
attention is supported by a sense of being away from routine mental contents,
such as those related to the pursuit of goals. Attention restoration is also
thought to be promoted when exploration of the environment and aestheti-
cally pleasing features within it engage effortless attention, or fascination.
Reliance on fascination when acting obviates the need to effortfully direct
attention, allowing for rest of the inhibitory mechanism on which directed
attention depends. Kaplan and Kaplan (1989) have argued that natural
environments will in general better support being away and fascination
than other types of environments. Several studies support that claim (e.g.
Hartig, Korpela, Evans, & Gärling, 1997; Herzog, Maguire, & Nebel, 2003;
Laumann, Gärling, & Stormark, 2001). Other theory has focused on affective
responses to natural environments. Psycho-evolutionary theory (Ulrich et al.,
1991) refers to a biologically prepared tendency to respond positively to
features of nature that would have had some significance for survival during
human evolution. For a person who is experiencing stress, the sight of trees,
water, and other natural features may rapidly initiate positive affective
ENVIRONMENTAL MODERATION OF WALKING BENEFITS 263
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Association of Applied Psychology.
responding that blocks negative feelings and thoughts, thereby opening for
stress recovery. Thus, urban parks may amplify psychological benefits of
walking per se.
These theories address resource insufficiency problems that may co-occur
and indeed affect one another (e.g. Kaplan, 1995). Both describe restorative
processes sustained in part by an individual’s engagement with aesthetically
pleasing features of the environment. Guided by these theories, several field
experiments have compared the restorative effects of different environments.
The designs of these studies have varied, but they have had some important
features in common. Subjects performed a task or tasks expected to induce an
acute potential for restoration. They then spent an extended period in one of
the comparison environments. Measures of both attention and affect were
collected, just after the time spent in the environment or both before and after
the environmental “treatment”. For example, in the earliest of these studies,
subjects performed a Stroop task for 40 minutes before walking for 40
minutes in a city center or a peri-urban park or passively relaxing indoors for
a similar period (Hartig, Mang, & Evans, 1991). After the walk, those in the
park condition reported more positive affect and detected a greater percent-
age of errors in a proofreading test than those in the two other conditions.
Studies with pretest–posttest designs have also found stronger restorative
effects of walking in a park versus along streets with both attentional
and affective measures (Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008; Hartig, Evans,
Jamner, Davis, & Gärling, 2003). To our knowledge, however, no field
experiment has yet assessed moderation of this pattern of environmental
effects by the immediate social context of walking—that is, by whether one
walks alone or with company.
Results from a scenario-based experiment by Staats and Hartig (2004)
suggest how restorative benefits of walking might depend on both the imme-
diate social context and the broader environment. After viewing a series of
images suggesting a walk through a forest or a city center, their subjects
rated the attractiveness of walking for one hour in the environment shown,
either alone or in the company of a friend. The subjects also rated the
likelihood that they would realise various attentional recovery outcomes
(e.g. regaining the ability to concentrate) during such a walk. The attrac-
tiveness of each walk correlated strongly with the rated likelihood of recov-
ery. Particularly germane to the aims of the present study, the company of
a friend increased the attractiveness of the walk in the city center, but it did
not do so for the forest walk (see also Staats, van Gemerden, & Hartig,
2010). The subjects appear to have considered the forest walk better suited
for restoration when alone.
In introducing their study, Staats and Hartig (2004) proposed that the
company of a friend could enable and enhance restoration to different
degrees in different environments. A friend could enable restoration, for
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example by helping to ensure safety in circumstances that, though otherwise
restorative, also involve some threat. If free access and an absence of threat
already enable restoration in an environment, then the company of a friend
could enhance restoration by making the time in the environment more
enjoyable, drawing attention away from everyday demands and stimulating
fascination, either within the social exchange or through mutual exploration
of the environment. Thus, company could enable and enhance restoration in
ways potentially distinguishable in attentional as well as affective outcomes.
As the results of Staats and Hartig suggest, however, company may not be
beneficial in all circumstances: an environment may sometimes be more
restorative for a person when he or she can enter it alone.
The present experiment follows up on the work of Staats and Hartig
(2004). Subjects took a series of four walks, on two occasions along paths in
an urban park and on two other occasions in an urban center. In each
environment they walked alone on one occasion and with a friend on the
other occasion. On each occasion they provided measures of attention and
affective states before and after the walk. We hypothesised that walking
would produce positive changes in attention and affect that are character-
istic of restoration, and that these changes would be greater when walking in
the park than along the streets. Of greatest interest was how, if at all, the
immediate social context would modify the broader environmental effects.
The results from the scenario study by Staats and Hartig suggested that
having the company of a friend would prove more beneficial in the urban
environment.
METHOD
Design
The experimental design included time of measurement (pre-walk, post-
walk), urban outdoor environment (park, P; street, S), and immediate social
context (with or without a friend) as within-subjects factors and gender as a
between-subjects factor. Each participant alternated between the two envi-
ronment conditions over the four testing occasions (P-S-P-S or S-P-S-P), with
assignment to a given order at random but balanced across subjects. We
included gender in the design because men and women may differ in their
sensitivity to the exercise environment (Hassmén, 1996).
Subjects
Ten women (age M=22.4, SD =3.03) and 10 men (age M=24.2, SD =2.81)
between 20 and 29 years of age participated for payment (400 Swedish
crowns; approx. 60 USD). All of the subjects were students at a large Swedish
ENVIRONMENTAL MODERATION OF WALKING BENEFITS 265
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university. Their study/work load varied between 2 and 8 hours per day
(M=4.7, SD =1.96). They exercised between 0 and 13 hours per week
(M=4.55, SD =3.56). Inclusion criteria included freedom from problems
with pain, asthma, or any other condition that would hinder the ability to
walk at a brisk pace for up to one hour. The conduct of the study complied
with the legal requirements of Sweden regarding research ethics. The subjects
were informed about the demands of the experiment prior to consenting to
participate.
Outdoor Environments and Walking Routes
All testing took place in a simply furnished room in the building that served
as the point of departure and return for both of the two routes. The subjects
walked the given route for 20 minutes, then turned and walked back along
the same route. Both routes went over flat ground without obstacles. Both
routes passed through safe urban areas familiar to the participants, and they
were easy to follow. All of the subjects received a map that showed the
routes.
The street walk followed sidewalks used by many pedestrians. The streets
themselves had two lanes and, at the times scheduled for the walks, typically
carried vehicular traffic of moderate intensity; vehicles would pass regularly
at a low speed, but without traffic backing up, except at traffic lights. The
route out had two street crossings with traffic lights and three without them;
the subjects thus made 10 crossings in all, out and back. For half of the walk,
the route passed low-rise stores and office buildings. During the other half it
passed mainly 2–5-storey apartment buildings. In addition to their height and
function, the buildings show diversity in historical period, architectural style,
and color. Trees and vegetation could be seen here and there, but were in
general scarce.
The park walk took place in a municipal park across the street from the
building where all testing took place. The route followed a gravel road along
a river, first passing through an allée of hardwood trees in a landscaped area
with bushes and grass, a small pond, wooden buildings and other gravel
paths. The route continued past a small athletics facility, a mini-golf course,
and a large open field. The subjects could see boats along the river and an
industrial area on its other side, and they could see and hear traffic from
nearby roads. They did not, however, approach roadways during the walk,
apart from crossing the street on entering and exiting the park.
During the period for data collection the weather conditions remained
stable, without substantial rain or snowfall and with the temperature between
-3 and +7 degrees Celsius. Of the days of data collection, roughly half had
clear to half-clear weather, and the remainder had more substantial cloudi-
ness or heavy cloud cover.
266 JOHANSSON ET AL.
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Dependent Measures
Affective States. We used the Revitalisation, Positive Engagement,
Tranquillity and Physical Exhaustion subscales from the Exercise-Induced
Feeling Inventory (EFI; Gauvin & Rejeski, 1993) to measure feelings com-
monly affected by exercise. The form was previously back-translated from
English to Swedish (Bodin & Hartig, 2003). Subjects rate the extent to which
given words (e.g. calm, relaxed, revived, refreshed) describe how they feel at
the given moment (0 =do not feel;4=feel very much). Internal consistency
(Cronbach’s a) varied across the eight test administrations as follows: for
Revitalisation, .25 to .80; for Positive Engagement, .69 to .94; for Tranquil-
lity, .71 to .92; for Physical Exhaustion, .65 to .81. We could not identify any
one Revitalisation item that could be dropped to enhance alpha across the
eight test administrations, including those four for which alpha fell below .60.
We retained the measure despite the sometimes weak internal consistencies,
given the theoretical relevance of the construct. We used the mean of the
responses to the three items in each subscale as the variable for analysis.
We used the Negative Mood Scale (NMS; Scott, Brandberg, & Öhman,
2001) to measure negative affects. Following the guidance given by the
authors of the scale (p. 3), we used instructions suited to the measurement of
immediate rather than more persistent affective responses. Subjects rate the
extent to which given words (e.g. worried, anxious, sad, angry, irritable,
rushed) describe how they feel at the moment (0 =not at all;4=very much).
The internal consistencies were uniformly high across test administrations for
the eight-item Anxiety/Depression subscale (a=.82–.93) but sometimes low
for the four-item Anger subscale (a=.43–.83). Alphas for the four-item Time
Pressure subscale varied from -.06 to .78, but after dropping one item, they
ranged from .32 to .84. The occasional low alphas for Anger and Time
Pressure appear to have followed from limited variability in the constituent
items (which are reflected in the subscale means and standard deviations
reported in the Results section). We used the mean of the responses to the
items as the variable for analysis.
Attention. The subjects completed a behavioral measure of attention just
before and immediately after each walk. A symbol substitution test (SST)
requires sustained directed attention and directed visual shifting (e.g. Lezak,
1983). A subject writes numbers into a series of blanks, each of which is
paired with one of nine symbols. The appropriate number for a symbol is
indicated by a key. After a practice trial, the subject is given 60 seconds to fill
in as many of the 110 available blanks as possible. The score is the number of
correctly assigned numbers. We constructed four versions of the test by
changing symbol-number combinations in the key. We varied the order of
completion for the different versions randomly across test occasions.
ENVIRONMENTAL MODERATION OF WALKING BENEFITS 267
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Background Measures
For people who have no need for restoration it would be inappropriate to
characterise any benefits of exercise as restorative. In addition to the pre-walk
measures obtained with the EFI and NMS, which tapped current affective
states just before walking, we used two measures to gauge the subjects’ need
for restoration at the time of their participation. The two additional measures
tapped into persistent experiences of stress and cognitive fatigue over
extended periods. The use of these measures is an alternative to the induction
of acute restoration needs with demanding tasks just before the period spent
in the given environment (e.g. Hartig et al., 1991; Laumann, Gärling, &
Stormark, 2003; cf. Bodin & Hartig, 2003).
Perceived Stress. Participants completed the Perceived Stress Scale
(PSS; Cohen & Williamson, 1988) on the first and last test occasions. The PSS
is a global measure with 10 items that reflect on overload and a lack of
predictability and control in life situations (e.g. “In the last month, how often
have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome
them?”). Items are scored on a 5-point scale (0 =never;4=very often). After
reversal of positively worded items, the total score can vary between 0 and 40,
with 40 indicating a high level of global perceived stress. In the present
sample, awas .81 on the first test occasion and .78 on the second test
occasion. Note that, with instructions that referred to the subject’s experience
over the last month, the second test administration covered the subjects’
general experience of stress during the 4-week period of participation in the
study.
Cognitive Failures. Subjects completed the Cognitive Failures Question-
naire (CFQ; Broadbent, Cooper, FitzGerald, & Parkes, 1982) on the first test
occasion only. The CFQ consists of 25 questions about the frequency with
which various common mistakes in perception, memory, and action have
occurred during the past 6 months. Its authors propose that the score indi-
cates a person’s degree of vulnerability to stress (or existing attentional
fatigue). Responses are made on a scale ranging from never (=0) to very often
(=4). Scores may thus range from zero to 100. In the present sample, a=.69.
Both the CFQ and the PSS were back-translated from English to Swedish.
Procedure
Data collection took place on weekdays during a 5-week period (early Feb-
ruary to mid-March). To balance variation in weather across the four experi-
mental conditions, four participants were scheduled to walk each day, one in
each condition and with staggered departures (12:00, 12:25, 14:00, 14:25).
268 JOHANSSON ET AL.
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With the given departure times, the subjects could complete all of the walks
in early afternoon daylight. They completed the four walks at one-week
intervals.
On two specified occasions the participants were instructed to bring along
a friend. The friend could be of the same or different gender; the only
requirement was that the person not be someone with whom the subject was
romantically involved. The friend was only along as company on the walk
and was not asked to provide data. All walks were to proceed at what for the
subject was a brisk pace, without stopping.
With each of the four test occasions, the subjects completed a set of
measures before and after the walk. On the first test occasion, before the
walk, the participants performed the symbol substitution task (SST), pro-
vided background information (age, gender, etc.), and then completed the
CFQ, PSS, NMS, and EFI, in that order. Immediately after the walk the
subjects again completed the SST, NMS, and EFI. On the three subsequent
test occasions the subjects completed the SST, NMS, and EFI before the
walk and then again immediately after the walk. On the final occasion, after
the fourth walk, the subjects completed the SST, NMS, and EFI as usual.
They then also completed the PSS for the second time. Finally, they ranked
their preferences for the four conditions (i.e. park walk, alone and together;
street walk, alone and together; from 1 for most preferred to 4 for least
preferred).
Statistical Analysis
We assessed the effects of our experimental manipulations with repeated-
measures ANOVA that included time (pre-walk, post-walk), outdoor
environment (park, street), and social context (alone, with a friend) as within-
subjects factors and gender as the sole between-subjects factor. The contrasts
of focal concern were for the main effect of time and the Time ¥Environment,
Time ¥Social Context, and Time ¥Environment ¥Social Context interac-
tions. We examined whether change over time in the outdoor environment
and/or social context further depended on gender; however, we observed no
statistically significant moderating effects of gender on change during the
walk, and the effect sizes were generally modest. For the sake of simplicity, we
do not comment on them here. Given the uncertainty regarding the character
of possible high-order interactions, we assessed statistical significance with
two-tailed probabilities (a=.05). We used bivariate correlations (Pearson’s r
or Spearman’s r, depending on the character of the distributions) to deter-
mine whether the potential for psychological benefits from the walks
co-varied with the need for restoration as measured with the PSS and CFQ.
We used non-parametric tests to compare the preferences rankings for the
different experimental conditions.
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RESULTS
Effects of Walking, Outdoor Environment, and Social
Context on Affective States
Just before each walk the subjects reported low-to-moderate levels of the
positive affects and low levels of the negative affects (see Table 1). As
reflected in the main effects of time (see Table 2), walking per se had mod-
erate to large, statistically significant effects on the affect measures, increas-
ing the positive affects and, despite their low initial values, decreasing the
negative ones. Only for Physical Exhaustion was the main effect of time not
significant.
Of the positive affects measured, only Revitalisation showed a significant
effect of the main experimental manipulations. The degree of change in
Revitalisation over the course of the walk apparently depended upon both
the outdoor environment and the social context. When walking in the park,
Revitalisation increased to a greater degree while alone than when with a
friend. When walking along streets, however, Revitalisation increased while
walking with a friend but it apparently did not increase while walking alone.
TABLE 1
Means and Standard Deviations for Exercise-Induced Feelings and Negative
Moods as a Function of Outdoor Environment, Social Context, and
Measurement Point
Measure
Park Street
Alone Friend Alone Friend
Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post
Revitalisation M1.25 1.72 1.55 1.85 1.42 1.40 1.17 1.62
SD 0.73 0.80 0.76 1.00 0.97 0.96 0.63 0.74
Positive Engagement M1.68 1.98 1.93 2.20 1.67 1.65 1.48 1.90
SD 0.83 0.78 1.01 1.01 1.04 1.07 0.75 0.68
Tranquillity M1.68 2.15 1.88 2.28 1.95 1.85 1.70 1.77
SD 0.87 0.67 0.95 0.82 0.91 0.88 0.86 0.88
Physical Exhaustion M0.93 1.08 0.77 0.78 0.82 1.03 1.20 0.72
SD 0.78 0.97 0.73 0.84 0.70 0.90 0.93 0.66
Anxiety/Depression M0.69 0.39 0.49 0.26 0.49 0.38 0.55 0.28
SD 0.79 0.54 0.58 0.38 0.63 0.63 0.56 0.37
Anger M0.45 0.20 0.34 0.18 0.39 0.24 0.43 0.25
SD 0.68 0.37 0.40 0.28 0.44 0.41 0.49 0.29
Time Pressure M0.82 0.40 0.77 0.42 0.57 0.53 0.63 0.48
SD 0.70 0.71 0.73 0.55 0.53 0.55 0.44 0.57
Note: Scores can range from 0 to 4, with higher values indicating higher levels.
270 JOHANSSON ET AL.
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Association of Applied Psychology.
The outdoor environment and social context manipulations also had
mixed effects on the negative affects. Change in Physical Exhaustion was
significantly modified by the social context but not by the environment;
feelings of exhaustion increased when the subjects walked alone but not when
they walked with a friend. In contrast, change in Time Pressure was signifi-
cantly modified by the environment but not by the social context; feelings of
being rushed declined significantly more during the walk in the park than
during the walk along city streets. For none of the negative affects was change
significantly modified by both environment and social context. Note,
however, that the pattern of means for Anxiety/Depression mirrors that for
TABLE 2
Experimental Effects on Affective States
Dependent measure Effect F(1, 18) pPartial h2
Revitalisation T 8.34 .010 .317
T¥E 1.65 .216 .084
T¥SC 1.12 .304 .059
T¥E¥SC 6.63 .019 .269
Positive Engagement T 14.17 .001 .441
T¥E 0.28 .605 .015
T¥SC 1.66 .214 .084
T¥E¥SC 2.65 .121 .128
Tranquillity T 7.14 .016 .284
T¥E 3.73 .069 .172
T¥SC 0.10 .755 .006
T¥E¥SC 0.45 .511 .024
Physical Exhaustion T 0.04 .845 .002
T¥E 2.20 .155 .109
T¥SC 6.08 .024 .253
T¥E¥SC 2.82 .110 .135
Anxiety/Depression T 41.38 .001 .697
T¥E 1.30 .270 .067
T¥SC 0.36 .556 .020
T¥E¥SC 3.40 .082 .159
Anger T 12.79 .002 .415
T¥E 0.20 .662 .011
T¥SC 0.11 .743 .006
T¥E¥SC 0.33 .574 .018
Time PressureaT 5.66 .029 .239
T¥E 6.14 .023 .254
T¥SC 0.04 .849 .002
T¥E¥SC 2.00 .175 .100
Note:T=main effect of time; T ¥E=Time ¥Environment interaction; T ¥SC =Time ¥Social Context
interaction; T ¥E¥SC =Time ¥Environment ¥Social Context interaction.
aAnalyses used log10 transformed variables to mitigate positive skew. The means reported in Table 1 are for
the untransformed variables.
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© 2011 The Authors. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being © 2011 The International
Association of Applied Psychology.
Revitalisation; in the park, Anxiety/Depression appears to have decreased
to a greater degree while walking alone than while walking with a friend,
whereas along the streets it declined to a greater degree while walking with a
friend than while walking alone. Again, though, while these results mirror
those seen with Revitalisation, the effect is smaller and not significant.
We checked our conclusions concerning the negative affects, given the
strongly skewed distributions for those scores. We mitigated the positive
skew in the Physical Exhaustion, Anxiety/Depression, Anger, and Time
Pressure scores with logarithmic transformations (Tabachnik & Fidell, 2001)
and then repeated the analyses. Compliance with assumptions of the
RM-ANOVA, conclusions regarding statistical significance, and effect size
estimates remained much the same with the transformed variables, with one
exception. For Time Pressure, the analysis with log10 transformed variables
produced notably better results for the tests of equality of covariance matri-
ces and error variances. The conclusions regarding statistical significance
were the same with the transformed and untransformed variables for Time
Pressure, but the F-statistic and accompanying effect size estimate (partial h2)
for the effect of time were roughly 50 per cent smaller with the transformed
variables. In Table 2 we report the (more conservative) test results based on
the transformed variables; however, we report the means and standard devia-
tions for the untransformed Time Pressure variables in Table 1.
Effects of Walking, Outdoor Environment, and Social
Context on Attention
The subjects made roughly 36–40 correct number-to-symbol matches on
average with each of the administrations of the symbol substitution test (see
Table 3). Walking per se appears to have caused a slight though significant
TABLE 3
Means and Standard Deviations for Performance on the Symbol-Substitution
Test as a Function of Outdoor Environment, Social Context, and Measurement
Point
Measure
Park Street
Alone Friend Alone Friend
Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post Pre Post
Symbol-substitution M38.65 37.85 40.00 36.35 37.85 37.80 37.70 36.85
SD 5.28 5.10 6.78 5.09 5.21 4.87 4.78 4.79
Note: Scores represent the number of correct number-to-symbol matches made within 60 seconds.
272 JOHANSSON ET AL.
© 2011 The Authors. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being © 2011 The International
Association of Applied Psychology.
decline in performance; for the main effect of time, F(1, 18) =4.75, p=.043,
partial h2=.209. The decline was greater with the walks in the park than
with the two street walks; for the Time ¥Environment interaction, F=5.99,
p=.025, partial h2=.250. Both of these effects were unexpected. Note,
however, that the effects did not involve a difference in SST performance
opening up over time. Rather, they involved an initial difference closing;
performance was on average significantly better before the park walks,
t(19) =2.53, p=.02. We have no explanation for this initial difference.
The scores are approximately normally distributed for each of the test
administrations (for all eight Kolmogorov-Smirnov tests, p>.17), and
no value exceeds 3 SDs from the respective mean. The effect appears
to reflect regression to the mean. The interaction of time and social con-
text was not significant (F=2.09, p=.166, partial h2=.104), nor was the
Time ¥Environment ¥Social Context interaction (F=1.41, p=.251, partial
h2=.072).
Further Characterising the Effects as Restorative
We used the PSS and CFQ to gauge more persistent needs or potential for
restoration at the time of participation in the experiment. On average, the
subjects reported low to moderate levels of perceived stress over the preceding
month at both the first (M=15.10, SD =4.67) and the second (M=15.25,
SD =4.81) administrations of the PSS (scale from 0 to 40). The level of
perceived stress was thus at roughly the same level at the start and then at the
end of the 4 weeks of data collection [paired-samples t(19) =0.17, p=.87]. The
scores from the two PSS administrations correlated strongly, rtest-retest =.65.
Scores on the CFQ indicated that the subjects were sometimes, though not
frequently, troubled by mistakes in perception, memory, and action during the
6 months prior to their participation (M=35.89, SD =7.25) (scale from 0 to
100). Administered only at the start of data collection, before the first walk, the
CFQ scores nonetheless correlated as strongly with the scores from the second
administration of the PSS (rCFQ-PSS2 =.696, p=.001) as they did with the scores
from the first administration (rCFQ-PSS1 =.660, p=.002). We thus combined the
CFQ scores with the two PSS scores into a single measure (a=.84).
Our measure of more persistent restoration needs or potential correlated
strongly and negatively with scores for the positive affects just prior to the
walk, averaged across the four occasions. That is, to the extent that the
subjects indicated more persistent restoration needs, they also reported, just
before their walks, lower levels of Revitalisation (r=-.64, p=.002), Positive
Engagement (r=-.62, p=.004), and Tranquillity (r=-.71, p<.001). They
did not, however, report significantly more Physical Exhaustion (Spearman’s
r=-.07, p=.79), Anxiety/Depression (r=.13, p=.58), Anger (r=-.11,
p=.64), or Time Pressure (r=.19, p=.43). Persistent restoration needs
ENVIRONMENTAL MODERATION OF WALKING BENEFITS 273
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Association of Applied Psychology.
correlated moderately and negatively, but not significantly, with the mean of
the pre-walk SST scores (r=-.42, p<.07).
Environmental Evaluations
At the end of the experiment the subjects were asked to rank the different
walks in terms of preference (1 =most preferred). The subjects only slightly
preferred the walk in the park with a friend (mean rank =1.90, SD =0.91)
over the walk in the park alone (mean rank =2.05, SD =1.10), which they in
turn only slightly preferred over the walk along streets with a friend (mean
rank =2.35, SD =0.88). They least liked the solitary walk along streets (mean
rank =3.70, SD =0.57). The omnibus test of the difference in rankings
(Friedman’s) yielded c2=24.30 (df =3, N=20, p<.001). Follow-up tests
(Wilcoxon) confirmed what is apparent from the mean ranks; the effect is
owing primarily to dislike for the solitary walk along streets. All three pair-
wise comparisons involving the solitary city walk are significant (ps.001),
but the remaining three comparisons are not significant (ps>.20).
DISCUSSION
We investigated the moderating effects of urban outdoor environment and
immediate social context on changes in affective states and attention expected
to occur while walking. Walking per se did on average reduce Anxiety/
Depression, Anger, and Time Pressure, despite the low-to-moderate initial
levels of those variables. It also increased Revitalisation, Positive Engage-
ment, and Tranquillity. The effect sizes ranged from moderate to large for the
tests of the effects of walking per se (i.e. the main effects of time). This set of
findings concurs with the general result of many studies on immediate emo-
tional benefits of exercise in general (Reed & Ones, 2006) and walking more
specifically (e.g. Ekkekakis et al., 2000, 2008).
A significant effect of walking per se also emerged in the performance of the
symbol-substitution task (SST) that we used to measure the capacity to direct
attention. Contrary to the idea that walking would promote cognitive ben-
efits, however, performance on the SST declined during the walk. Moreover,
it declined to a greater degree with the park walk than with the walk along
city streets. However, the results are inconclusive; the means for the two
environments differed significantly at the pretest but were roughly the same
after the walk, so the change may only reflect regression to the mean.
Environment alone moderated change in feelings of Time Pressure; it
decreased significantly more with the walks in the park than with the walks
along streets. This pattern was mirrored by the results for Tranquillity;
however, the interaction was not statistically significant at the .05 level for that
variable (cf. Bodin & Hartig, 2003).
274 JOHANSSON ET AL.
© 2011 The Authors. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being © 2011 The International
Association of Applied Psychology.
Social context alone moderated change in Physical Exhaustion; on
average, it increased while walking alone, but not while walking with a friend.
Conceivably, this reflects on social facilitation in the form of enjoyable dis-
traction provided by a non-evaluative other in the performance of a simple,
non-competitive activity (cf. Aiello & Douthitt, 2001). Such positive distrac-
tion from the surroundings is also congruent with the idea that the company
of a friend can enhance restoration, though here the outcome reflects less on
restoration than prevention of fatigue.
The urban outdoor environment and the immediate social context together
moderated change in Revitalisation. When walking in the park, Revitalisa-
tion increased more when subjects were alone, whereas when walking along
streets it increased more when subjects were in company. This interaction was
mirrored by the results for Anxiety/Depression; however, for that variable the
three-way interaction was not significant.
The interactive effects of walking, physical environment, and social context
on Revitalisation fit with the results of the scenario study by Staats and
Hartig (2004), which provided a key point of departure for the present
research. In that study, having the company of a friend increased the attrac-
tiveness of a walk in an urban setting, but not of a walk in a forest. As in that
study, subjects in the present study least liked walking along streets alone.
Like the study by Staats and Hartig (2004), this study built on theory and
research concerned with restorative environments in formulating the general
expectation that the environment in which a physical activity takes place
moderates the psychological benefits of that activity. We therefore took
interest in whether our results could be characterised as restorative. Rather
than experimentally inducing a potential for restoration, we used two mea-
sures concerned with persistent deficits in adaptive resources. Given the
low-to-moderate scores on both the PSS and CFQ, and the low-to-moderate
scores for the measures of negative affects just before each walk, it seems
there was rather little need or potential for restoration to begin with on the
different occasions. Yet, we found that to the extent that our subjects
reported persistent resource deficits with the PSS and CFQ, they also
reported less positive affect just before the walks. These associations were
strong. We did not find comparable associations for the negative affects; this
may, however, reflect on the more limited variability in the pre-walk mea-
sures of the negative affects. That aside, any decline in negative affect argu-
ably can be considered as restorative, even when it occurs from an initially
low level.
It is reasonable to ask whether the amount of change in affect and attention
over the course of the walks related to the more persistent potential for
restoration reflected in the combined PSS and CFQ scores. It would,
however, be problematic to simply assess the correlation of restoration needs
with the average amount of change across the occasions. As already shown,
ENVIRONMENTAL MODERATION OF WALKING BENEFITS 275
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Association of Applied Psychology.
the pre-walk to post-walk change scores were modified by the environment
and/or immediate social context on the walk. Future studies can with more
sophisticated statistical techniques (and the larger samples they require)
address the effects of measured versus induced pre-treatment restoration
needs on the outcomes subsequently realised.
Although the results are consistent with expectations in important respects,
several methodological issues deserve mention. First, we used only single
examples of park and urban street walks. Our limited environmental sam-
pling discourages broad generalisations about the relative benefits of walks in
urban parks and centers, familiar as well as unfamiliar.
Second, with our selection of outdoor environments we unavoidably
selected bundles of social and physical attributes. The street environment
involved not only more exposure to traffic and noise, but also more possi-
bilities for involvement with other people, both known and unknown, than
the park would have provided. Thus, it would be problematic to attribute
beneficial effects to, for example, the amount of greenery alone; parks also
afford relative solitude and less exposure to unwanted sounds from human
activity, for example.
Third, we had a small sample. Despite this, some of the expected
interactions were uncovered. However, we could not confirm the statistical
significance of other interactions, despite considerable effect sizes, as with
the Time ¥Environment interaction in Tranquillity and the Time ¥
Environment ¥Social Context interaction in Anxiety/Depression (cf. Bodin
& Hartig, 2003). The effect sizes reported here can guide power analyses for
future studies and also support meta-analytic work (see Bowler, Buyung-Ali,
Knight, & Pullin, 2010).
Fourth, some of the affect measures had low internal consistency at some
of the test administrations. This would have attenuated associations (Nun-
nally & Bernstein, 1994), and so further compromised the ability to detect
effects already limited by the small sample. In this light it is noteworthy that
we could uncover significant effects despite the sometimes low internal con-
sistency, particularly with the Revitalisation measure.
Fifth, we did not obtain measures of affect during the walk. Conceivably,
our subjects experienced variations in affects during the walk that are not
reflected in the difference between the pre-walk and post-walk measures (e.g.
increase and then dissipation by the end; cf. Hull, Michael, Walker, &
Roggenbuck, 1996). As it stands, however, we did capture significant change
on average for all but one of the affect measures.
Finally, the strong main effects of walking per se on affective states may to
some extent reflect the operation of demand characteristics; the subjects may
have anticipated that they were expected to show improvements from pre-
walk to post-walk. Such an explanation seems less plausible, however, with
regard to the various interaction effects.
276 JOHANSSON ET AL.
© 2011 The Authors. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being © 2011 The International
Association of Applied Psychology.
In sum, we provide evidence that some affective benefits of a brisk walk
depend in varying ways on the outdoor urban environment and the immedi-
ate social context. Although small in scale, this experiment fruitfully joins and
builds on two established lines of research, one concerned with the restorative
effects of different environments (e.g. Hartig, Böök, Garvill, Olsson, &
Gärling, 1996; Hartig et al., 1991, 2003) and the other with the manner in
which restoration needs and characteristics of the socio-physical environment
together affect preferences regarding environments in which restoration
might be sought (e.g. Staats, Kieviet, & Hartig, 2003: Staats & Hartig, 2004).
Further research of this kind can follow up on the present findings and the
findings of Staats et al. (2010) by comparing the effects of a broader range of
solitary and social activities-in-environments that urban residents value for
restoration. Such work addresses an important gap in theorising about restor-
ative environments. Theory and research to date have identified social causes
and consequences of different forms of resource depletion (Kaplan, 1995),
and so have indicated potential social benefits of restorative processes:
however, little work has yet directly addressed specific social variables that
sustain restorative processes in different environments (Staats & Hartig,
2004). We think our propositions concerning the role of company in enabling
and enhancing restoration constitute a useful new contribution in this respect.
Results of this kind of research suggest possible consequences of urban
design and planning alternatives that open or close various opportunities for
physical activity. They further affirm the notion that having a companion can
offset some of the deficits in the broader socio-physical environment. Still,
while the company of a friend may enhance a walk along streets in terms of
some psychological benefits, our results also suggest that other potential
benefits are more dependent on the broader socio-physical environment,
regardless of the immediate social context. In particular, together with the
results of other field experiments in this area (e.g. Hartig et al., 1991, 2003;
Bodin & Hartig, 2003; Berman et al., 2008), some of the present results speak
to the value of what Pretty and colleagues (2005, 2007) have called “green
exercise”; that is, exercise in relatively natural environments like parks. For
the realisation of some psychological benefits of exercise, and for the reali-
sation of benefits with physical activity more generally, it appears that parks
and other settings that afford contact with nature offer a distinct advantage
for urban residents.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We thank Tora Holmberg, Per Gustafson, Anders Lindbom, Helen Ekstam,
Anthony Ong and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments
on an earlier draft of this paper.
ENVIRONMENTAL MODERATION OF WALKING BENEFITS 277
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Association of Applied Psychology.
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Organizational initiatives and researchers have argued for the importance of the natural outdoor environment (NOE) for promoting wellbeing. The main aim of this meta-analysis was to synthesize the existing literature to examine the effects of physical activity (PA) in the NOE on wellbeing in adults. The secondary aim was to explore whether wellbeing reported by adults differs as a function of PA context. Electronic databases (PubMed, ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health, PsycINFO, SPORTDiscus and Embase) were searched for English peer-reviewed articles published before January 2019. Inclusion criteria were: (1) healthy adults; (2) PA in the NOE; (3) the measurement of wellbeing; and (4) randomized control trials, quasi-experimental designs, matched group designs. To address the secondary aim, PA in the NOE was compared with that performed indoors. Risk of bias was assessed through the Effective Public Health Practice Project (EHPP) Quality Assessment Tool for Quantitative Studies. Primary studies meeting inclusion criteria for the main (nstudies = 19) and secondary (nstudies = 5) aims were analyzed and interpreted. The overall effect size for the main analysis was moderate (d = 0.49, p < 0.001; 95% CI = 0.33, 0.66), with the magnitude of effect varying depending on wellbeing dimension. Wellbeing was greater in PA in the NOE subgroup (d = 0.53) when compared with the indoor subgroup (d = 0.28), albeit not statistically significant (p = 0.15). Although physical activity in the NOE was associated with higher wellbeing, there is limited evidence to support that it confers superior benefits to that engaged indoors. Researchers are encouraged to include study designs that measure markers of wellbeing at multiple time points, greater consideration to diverse wellbeing dimensions and justify decisions linked to PA and NOE types.
... Abundant research has documented associations between experiencing nature and subjective well-being (Johansson et al., 2011;Luck et al., 2011;White et al., 2017). When targeting urban environments, many studies have demonstrated various positive effects of urban green spaces on mental health and well-being (Braubach et al., 2017;de Vries, 2010). ...
Article
Well‐being is transversal to different urban‐related challenges such as increasing urbanization or adaptation to the effects of climate change. One possible response to these challenges is the use of nature in cities. The aim of this study is to investigate how the objective quantity of natural space near the home, the perception of these natural elements, and their perceived availability, moderated by the effect of connectedness to nature, could explain levels of well‐being. A survey was conducted among a sample of 1343 participants living in seven European cities. Data were collected online via a questionnaire. Indicators of the objective quantity of urban natural space based on remotely sensed satellite imagery were also used. Regression models highlight the association between well‐being and perceived amount of nature, accessibility to a community garden, and level of connectedness to nature. A moderating and negative effect of connectedness to nature on the association between the perceived quantity of nature and well‐being was also identified. Perception of nature seems to be a better indicator of well‐being than the objective one. Results highlight the importance of the social dimension of collective gardens in enhancing well‐being. Connectedness to nature could facilitate appropriation of natural elements and its effects on well‐being.
... Walking activities on urban streets are recognized as a basic catalyst for sustainable urban operation and an important factor determining the quality of urban life [11]. Walking activities in urban public spaces benefit people's physical as well as mental health [12][13][14][15], and are also associated with the local economy [16,17]. However, unless the pandemic is completely over, direct close contact between people on the street can still cause the virus to spread. ...
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In the New Normal era of “Living with COVID-19”, we need a measure of the safety of street spaces. Social distancing during a pandemic is considered an effective safety measure, but the current binary threshold approach to social distancing is clearly inadequate for evaluating and monitoring the risk of infection on urban streets. This study is to propose a social distancing indicator that can quantitatively evaluate the level of exposure to viral infection for pedestrians using urban streets during a pandemic, and to develop a statistical model to estimate the proposed indicator from simulations of pedestrian activity on urban streets. We assumed that the risk of infection on urban streets has a direct relationship with distance between pedestrians. The social distancing indicator was based largely on the findings of past studies. We developed a statistical model to relate the proposed indicator to three other explanatory variables: pedestrian density, clumpiness, and directional heterogeneity. We used pedestrian simulation to generate the raw data for these explanatory variables. The social distancing indicator demonstrated a statistically significant relationship with input variables and can be used to evaluate pedestrians’ social distancing on urban streets. We measured the relationship between different levels of pedestrian density, clumpiness, and directional heterogeneity and related the results to the potential level of exposure to viral infection. Health agencies can use the findings to develop appropriate policies for monitoring and improving the social distance between pedestrians on urban streets during a pandemic.
... Classification of study quality was largely driven by the infrequent discussion of potential confounding effects in the reviewed articles. 10 studies discussed confounding effects, including season and environment (Brooks et al., 2017;Bielinis et al., 2018;Lopes et al., 2020;Liu et al., 2021) and background stress (Johansson et al., 2011). Bratman et al. (2015) and Golding et al. (2018) conducted comprehensive investigation into the potential confounding effects of demographics and pre-exposure outcome measures. ...
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The biophilia hypothesis posits an innate biological and genetic connection between human and nature, including an emotional dimension to this connection. Biophilic design builds on this hypothesis in an attempt to design human-nature connections into the built environment. This article builds on this theoretical framework through a meta-analysis of experimental studies on the emotional impacts of human exposure to natural and urban environments. A total of 49 studies were identified, with a combined sample size of 3,201 participants. The primary findings indicated that exposure to natural environments had a medium to large effect on both increasing positive affect and decreasing negative affect. This finding supported the anticipated emotional dimension of the biophilia hypothesis and lends credibility to biophilic design theory. Evidence was revealed in support of the affective/arousal response model. Immersion in environments indicated a larger effect size than laboratory simulation of environments. Methodological recommendations for future experimental research were few, however the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) outcome measure was recommended as a measure of both positive and negative affect for further studies. A combination measurement of stress related outcome variables was proposed to further explore the affective/arousal response model and its potential relationship to the biophilia hypothesis. The meta-analysis provides evidence for fundamental theories regarding human-nature connection, while revealing gaps in current knowledge.
... Walking is a behaviour that is influenced by the physical (both natural and built) and the social environment [31]. People are more likely to walk in the company of another person [32] and prefer walking outdoors with others more than walking outdoors alone [33,34] as it may help diminish any perceived danger of being alone [35]. As such, one way to increase walking behaviours is to utilise interventions targeting these two environmental determinants-physical and social-in tandem [36], for example, through GOHWs. ...
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Physical distancing practices during the COVID-19 global pandemic contributed to a high degree of social isolation among older adults. To reduce loneliness and other ill effects of social isolation, public health experts recommended outdoor social gathering, with physical distancing. Adopting a case study approach, we explored how social aspects of group outdoor health walks (GOHWs) mitigate social isolation for older adults and improve individual social wellbeing. We used semi-structured interviews to understand the experiences of social isolation and social relationships in nine older (50–80 s) adults participating in a GOHW in Scotland, United Kingdom (UK). Verbatim transcripts were analysed through an iterative process of thematic analysis carried out by an interdisciplinary team of qualitative researchers from environmental psychology, medicine, and geography. Themes provide insight into the social dimensions of GOHWs, the mediating effects of social experiences, and the contribution these make to individual social wellbeing. GOHWs provide opportunities to be part of a group and attend to the needs of inexperienced or physically challenged individuals. Being part of the group walk fosters casual interpersonal interactions through spontaneous mixing during and after the walk. This programmatic structure counters loneliness, engenders pleasurable anticipation of regular contact with others, supports physical activity, and fosters group cohesion. These in turn contribute to individual social wellbeing, including expanding social networks, meaningful relationships, a sense of belonging, and acting on empathy for others. GOWHs may be beneficial for mitigation of social isolation as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings were used to propose a conceptual model to parse social constructs and inform selection or development of quantitative social measures for future studies of nature-based interventions such as GOHWs.
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Time spent on being with others (social interactions) and being alone (solitude) in day to day life might reflect older adults' agentic regulatory strategies to balance the needs to belong and to conserve energy. Motivated from a joint lifespan psychological and social relationship theoretical perspective, this study examined how time spent on social interactions and solitude alternatively unfolds within individuals in daily life, relating to individual differences in trait‐level well‐being and fatigue. Over 21 days, a total of 11,172 valid records of social interactions were collected from 118 older adults (aged 65–94 years) in a smartphone‐based event‐contingent ambulatory assessment study in Switzerland. On average, a social interaction episode lasted 39 min and a solitude episode lasted 5.03 hr. Multilevel models showed that, at the within‐person level, a longer‐than‐usual social interaction preceded and was followed by a longer‐than‐usual solitude episode. Moderator analyses showed that older adults with higher trait life satisfaction and lower trait fatigue spent even more time in social interactions after longer solitude episodes, amplifying the solitude‐then‐interaction association. Our findings suggest that whereas social interaction is a means to improve well‐being, solitude is also an integral part in older adults' daily life supporting energy recovery.
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Objective The aim of this project was to conduct a randomised control study to examine whether outdoor mindful walking in nature can effectively improve university students’ sleep quality, mood, and mindfulness during the lockdown of Covid-19 pandemic in the U.K. Methods Participants were measured at T0 (pre-study baseline), T1 (pre-intervention), T2 (post-intervention), and T3 (follow-up). A total of 104 participants (female = 94) who were experiencing sleep difficulties were randomly allocated to either an experimental (i.e., nature) or control (i.e., urban) walking environments. Participants in each walking condition independently undertook a daily 35-minute walk for a week (7 days). Subjective sleep quality, total mood disturbance, mindfulness, and degree of nature, and participants’ perspectives and suggestions about the intervention, were collected. Results Findings suggest that both groups exhibited significant improvements on participant's trait mindfulness, sleep quality and mood after the intervention. However, mindful walking in nature did not bring additional mental health benefits to participants than those who walked in urban environment. Participants reflected their perspectives about the intervention, which will assist with further intervention development. Conclusions Findings contribute to the evidence base for the effectiveness of outdoor mindful walking interventions on mental health. Especially these findings add new knowledge of how mindful walking outdoors reduces university students’ mood disturbances and improves their sleep quality and mindfulness level during the pandemic.
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The inactive lifestyle of urban Indians has increased their risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). A qualitative study was designed to explore barriers and facilitators related to exercise participation among urban Indians. Underpinned by the developmental life course theory, nine focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with 29 women and 26 men residing in Mumbai, India. Focus groups were gender and age stratified. Both thematic analysis and content analysis techniques were used to analyse the data. While the lack of time was mentioned as a barrier by all groups, an unstructured schedule was mentioned specifically by women and awareness of physical health benefits emerged as the most popular facilitator for recreational physical activity. Based on the results of the FGDs, a pilot exercise intervention for sedentary women ( N = 6) was conducted which consisted of a morning walk six days a week for 10 weeks. Post-intervention, an FGD was conducted to explore participants’ perspectives on their experience in the intervention. The participants reported that the intervention enhanced exercise self-efficacy and well-being. Exercise as relaxation, spousal support, and need for peers to exercise with emerged as primary themes during the follow-up FGD. These findings can inform the development of age and gender-specific as well as culturally appropriate interventions to facilitate active living.
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In 1995 the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published national guidelines on Physical Activity and Public Health. The Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the American Heart Association endorsed and supported these recommendations. The purpose of the present report is to update and clarify the 1995 recommendations on the types and amounts of physical activity needed by healthy adults to improve and maintain health. Development of this document was by an expert panel of scientists, including physicians, epidemiologists, exercise scientists, and public health specialists. This panel reviewed advances in pertinent physiologic, epidemiologic, and clinical scientific data, including primary research articles and reviews published since the original recommendation was issued in 1995. Issues considered by the panel included new scientific evidence relating physical activity to health, physical activity recommendations by various organizations in the interim, and communications issues. Key points related to updating the physical activity recommendation were outlined and writing groups were formed. A draft manuscript was prepared and circulated for review to the expert panel as well as to outside experts. Comments were integrated into the final recommendation. Primary recommendation: To promote and maintain health, all healthy adults aged 18 to 65 yr need moderate-intensity aerobic (endurance) physical activity for a minimum of 30 min on five days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 20 min on three days each week. [I (A)] Combinations of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation. [IIa (B)] For example, a person can meet the recommendation by walking briskly for 30 min twice during the week and then jogging for 20 min on two other days. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity, which is generally equivalent to a brisk walk and noticeably accelerates the heart rate, can be accumulated toward the 30-min minimum by performing bouts each lasting 10 or more minutes. [I (B)] Vigorous-intensity activity is exemplified by jogging, and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate. In addition, every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance a minimum of two days each week. [IIa (A)] Because of the dose-response relation between physical activity and health, persons who wish to further improve their personal fitness, reduce their risk for chronic diseases and disabilities or prevent unhealthy weight gain may benefit by exceeding the minimum recommended amounts of physical activity. [I (A)]
Technical Report
Available online at: https://population.un.org/wup/Download/