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Cognitive benefits of walking in natural versus built environments

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Abstract

Leisure time physical activity can be a robust preventer of physical and mental illness. The health benefits of exercise have been well-documented, including decreased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and increased mood, life-satisfaction and cognitive performance (An, Xiang, Yang, & Yan, 2016; Blair & Morris, 2009). Time spent outdoors is also emerging as a predictor of positive mental health, though the outcomes are often conflated with heightened levels of physical activity. This study sought to confirm the cognitive benefits of exercise in outdoor environments using established cognitive tests while measuring brainwave activity throughout the process using portable electroencephalograph (EEG) headsets. Participants completed cognitive performance tests before and after walking indoors, then again on a different session while walking outdoors. Repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed significant cognitive improvement after both walking sessions, with elevated mental restoration observed for the outdoor walking session, as measured by a Stroop Test. EEG measures revealed a significantly higher level of meditative state during the outdoor walking session, as compared to indoors. In addition, the gains in relaxed and meditative mental states were retained longer after walking outdoors. Results are discussed within the context of growing support for leisure time exposure to natural environments and outdoor prescriptions. Implications for planning, health policy, and public education are proffered in light of these findings.
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
Introduction
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The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
%!
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Literature Review
Leisure Time Physical Activity
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6*
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!!
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):/0!>+4
?;@
!

@0)A0>A!
'
4>
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The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
2!B!!

<(*!C
!!
()/?
%B
!:!D*;EF
!!
!"F7
(GH!%-

!
!7
(!
0?+6?.
B!
!!C!(-
!5!
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Natural and built environments
6B!!!
!%!
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The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
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7#47#47#!
!(J
:??*@!
!!KB
#(5
!L!K
:??*+)
*)!(!
(47#
!EG!

)*#<!
!
47#B!
#:;4M M!
*
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
!
!4!B!<
4M M)!9/
:;#<B
#$!??*
!!!
L(#B!
<
!4(
!
!#!!
88.
EEG
88.L1
!88.!!
<(!#
#!88.
!"J#
88.1L
!
"J#88.!
!(1
##B
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The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
(
!(2
!!
)?+7-4!
!8I#H88."
!
!"4
-,8I#H88.
(
#"J
!(!
Methods
#*=!Mean
N!@0
2!
%&
#
!!
#!
!5
#!
(!B!!
(!,(!
3
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
B!8I#H88.!

#!
B(
#
!(!4L7
$47$#
(!#B(!08&#

!#(!
)M0#)M0#L

4
(!!
#47$
!47$.
!45!08&)M0#
!!#
(!#(!
!&(
!
47$M
!!5#
;
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
!<

Measures
EEG
#8I#H!88.1
4-+)9/:3
8!B!588.
!)?#B
!BL; 1
LMN*5- 1#ND53 1
!!4
;5* 1( 
L)N>5- 1.!!N-5 1
!
,B!ML
O- 1.!!LD- 1#B!

,,#!,,#,
!!!!
!4B!
!!!!
,!
L$*
?
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
4!4J"!
!!!$* 
(!"
(!
4(!L
(I;7(!
 !59./2
,!!!
L(#
A?#!!

!6!#
B(!
!5!
<!

88.!

.<(
,
!!

, 

The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
4!!88.
!!!
!6*#
L,
!
#!
(
55
#!!
6
!!
<!0

(!
5"!
 -#Mean
(0(!
(#
Mean 15!4
H74%IH4!
5"
The Stroop Test

The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
#0#!
#
!
!#!!!08&
 !;#pure0#
!
EG(#
!#
!interference0
&
#!!
#0 score!pure0
!!interference A
??@!0score
!'22-2
D2#174IH4!
!!"
Backward Digit Span Test
#)M0#!
  ,
L!
!)!
*,B!!!

The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
L

!#

C!!(!!;)!
*,
E55G
)!9/:;#!
JI1
!
)!*#)M0#174%IH4!
!!"
Results
Cognitive Tests
4!(
8!!
IJB
!!#
MeanJ
#Mean
#0
!
-
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
)M0#!!
!
250
!&(
!F;N*>*pN;PN--4
!0#*
*74%IH4
B!(!F;N;D>DpNDPN
B!<!
(#)M0#!!
<!!
5!#
B!&)M0#!F;N3>3pN
!(!F;NpN
Mental States
M&88.5
5!4%IH4CB(
#B!
!!
0B"!
05!50
# 
D
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
504!5
"!
7#
0B&
!(44#
0!
(#
!
2
<4!
!
BLE@GE@G!
p O(4 !(
!&!p N--(p N
*;!!!
BL#!
!(!
550
Discussion
# 
*
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
#!&
!(!
&!!<#
B0#
!
<#!!
6!
(!#
B!!188.!!
!&1!6!1
(
B!#!#
<!
!!
(
,!!C
!1
!!!#

##
)M0#B!&
#B
)!*#:?#
>
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
1)M0#!
)!*!)M0#
&
!<#
5
!4%IH4!0)M0#
%B&
B!!,
!!!
B<!

#B<!!
04EG0
&A*

!!!C
#!
47#:??*
!
!8&1(((
!L
4M M!0D+#/:?.
!B#:?!!
3
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
!!!
0(($
,/2-B
<!!%
!!!
'CC(C.
&
!
88.!
!!<5!
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!50#
!!
!A?6
!!L
!!!
!!!

!A?+A1
;I5!!!!
!(
5!(!
/;+#/1-+Q
;
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
#!!
!
)!;+-%
!!!!!!
!5L,
!!!
!B!
2(
4M M88.C
4$:!#
!
( (
!50
!(
#5!
!!
!(23,
!5!
!7!
<"5):/
0!>+1>L
!5!C5
J
?
The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
#!!
!
#B!
!!(H

.?5!!!
B ??32!
!
!!!
#!!!
!!
!&
!
!!5
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The Cognitive Benefits of Outdoor Exercise Versus Indoor Exercise
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... The study by Bailey et al. (2018) was carried out to compare both processes and outcomes of walking indoor and outdoor. Undergraduates wore a mobile Emotiv EEG headset to monitor their brain wave activity at baseline, pre-test, while walking along a natural trail of the campus and inside an aquatic recreation center, and at post-test. ...
... Finally, also Chen et al. (2020) carried out a study to examine the neural mechanisms of the restorative effect of short-term exposure to nature. Like in the Bailey et al. (2018) investigation, students wore a mobile Emotiv EEG headset to register their brain activity in two different conditions while sitting: exposure to a small wooden garden by a pond and exposure to a traffic island in a heavily busy road. As measure of cognitive performance, the Necker cube was used, measuring the frequency of failures to maintain concentration. ...
... Specifically, when considering the green contexts, exposures to nature took place in forests not far from the school (Berto et al., 2015;Mygind et al., 2018), green area of the schoolyard (Amicone et al., 2018), small or large urban parks (Berman et al., 2008;Hartig et al., 1991;Schutte et al., 2017;Wallner et al., 2018), rural area , small wooden garden (Chen et al., 2020), or natural campus trail (Bailey et al., 2018;Han, 2017). Only one study examined the impact of the green landscape from the classroom window views (Li & Sullivan, 2016). ...
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There is growing interest recently in the outdoor environment surrounding schools where students spent time during breaks, in-school activities, and after-school programs. Several reviews have examined the impact of long-term exposures to nearby nature on students’ academic achievement, but none has focused on the effects of short-term contacts with nature on students’ cognitive performance. The aim of this review is to understand the context in which short-term passive exposures to greenness occur, how cognitive performance is measured, and the conditions under which cognitive benefits emerge at various educational levels. We reviewed 14 studies in the extant literature that report investigations involving students at different educational levels, from elementary school to university, in a short exposure to nature lasting from 10 to 90 min during a study day. The review shows that in 12 out of the 14 studies, across educational levels, cognitive benefits emerge in terms of directed attention restoration from mental fatigue due to contact with nature. A no-cost opportunity to sustain students’ cognition is a break in a green environment after mentally demanding activities.
... It has also been suggested that the experience of natural environments is able to modulate brain activity associated with cognitive-inhibitory mechanisms, and that this effect is reflected by an increase of alpha brain activity markedly over the brain's central areas (Ulrich, 1981;Grassini et al., 2019). A recent review (Norwood et al., 2019) reported several studies that connected higher alpha over frontal lobes to the experience of natural environments or other environmental settings perceived as positive (Chang and Chen, 2005;Choi et al., 2015;Chiang et al., 2017;Bailey et al., 2018). ...
... Importantly, the reported EEG data pointed out that exposure to natural setting may be associated to an increase in brain alpha waves (especially early-alphas), that was hypothetically attributed to a downmodulation of attentional and cognitive processes (Grassini et al., 2019). Other studies have found that alpha-waves are associated to the experience of environments with positive values (Chang and Chen, 2005;Choi et al., 2015;Chiang et al., 2017;Bailey et al., 2018). ...
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Various lines of evidence have shown that nature exposure is beneficial for humans. Despite several empirical findings pointing out to cognitive and emotional positive effects, most of the evidence of these effects are correlational, and it has been challenging to identify a cause-effect relationship between nature exposure and cognitive and emotional benefits. Only few of the published studies use psychophysiological methods to assess the biological correlates of these positive effects. Establishing a connection between human physiology and contact with natural settings is important for identifying cause-effect relationships between exposure to natural environments and the positive effects commonly reported in connection to nature exposure. In the present study, we recorded physiological indexes of brain activity (electroencephalography) and sympathetic nervous system (electrodermal activity), while the participants were presented with a series of videos displaying natural, urban, or neutral (non-environmental, computerized) scenes. Participants rated the scenes for their perceived relaxing value, and after each experimental condition, they performed a cognitive task (digit span backward). Participants rated natural videos as the most relaxing. Spectral analyses of EEG showed that natural scenes promoted alpha waves, especially over the central brain. The results suggest that experiencing natural environments virtually produces measurable and reliable brain activity markers which are known to be related to restorative processes.
... Children and adults who spent 20 minutes in a park setting, for instance, showed elevated cognitive performance as compared to time spent in other settings (Berman et al., 2008;Taylor & Kuo, 2009). Other research confirms the relaxing and regenerative effects of natural environments both virtually (Liszio et al., 2018) and through real-time experiences (Andrew W. Bailey et al., 2018;Aspinall et al., 2015). ...
... Previous research has shown that walking in urban and natural areas produces immediate and sustained influences, with natural spaces enhancing relaxation and lowering attentional demands (Andrew W. Bailey et al., 2018;Aspinall et al., 2015). This may indicate that the environment plays a larger role in mental restoration during low and moderate physical activity than during vigorous workouts. ...
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Engagement with natural environments has been shown to enhance mental well-being and reduce stress and frustration. However, little research has been conducted on the influence of urban and built environments on psychological state during real-time exercise. This study explored the changes in mental state for 19 avid runners over the course of a casual 10k run through urban and natural settings. Participants wore mobile encephalograms, fitness trackers, and GPS devices to track neurological, physiological, and geographic data for the entire run. Results indicate significant increases in relaxation from pre to post-run measurements, with variant mental status throughout the experience, based on environmental context, distance, and climb rate. The trajectory of mental processes was similar to those reported in previous studies, though not supportive of a restorative mental influence of natural settings during vigorous activity. Results are discussed with previous research and implications for activity planning and urban planning.
... Power density values were then averaged over each condition and alpha (8-13 Hz) and beta (14-30 Hz) bands were extracted. Before further processing all data was baseline-corrected (viewing period-resting baseline) (52,53). ...
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The therapeutic values of contact with nature have been increasingly recognized. A growing body of evidence suggests that a unique subcategory of "contemplative landscapes" is particularly therapeutic. Previous studies predominantly focused on observational designs in non-clinical populations. It is not known if these effects can be extrapolated to populations suffering from depression, and experimental designs need to be utilized to establish causality. We examined the effects of in-situ passive exposure to three urban spaces on brain activity, namely a Therapeutic Garden with high Contemplative Landscape scores (TG), Residential Green (RG) and Busy Downtown (BD), and self-reported momentary mood in adults aged 21-74 (n = 92), including 24 clinically depressed and 68 healthy participants. Portable, multimodal electroencephalography (EEG) and functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) systems were used to record brain activity, and a Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire was used to record mood before and after exposure. We tested the interactions between the site, time and group for the mood, and between site and group for the neuroelectric oscillations and brain hemodynamics. Self-reported pre-post-mood was significant only at the TG (p = 0.032) in both groups. The lowest Total Mood Disturbance (TMD) was reported at TG and the highest in BD (p = 0.026). Results from fNIRS indicated marginally significant lower oxy-Hb in the frontal region at TG as compared to BD (p = 0.054) across both groups. The marginally significant effect of site and group was also observed (p = 0.062), with the Clinical group showing much lower oxy-Hb at TG than Healthy. The opposite pattern was observed at BD. EEG results showed differences between Healthy and Clinical groups in the Frontal Alpha Asymmetry (FAA) pattern across the sites (p = 0.04), with more frontal alpha right in the Clinical sample and more left lateralization in the Healthy sample at TG. Temporal Beta Asymmetry (TBA) analyses suggested that patients displayed lower bottom-up attention than Healthy participants across all sites (p = 0.039). The results suggest that both Olszewska-Guizzo et al. Therapeutic Garden and Depression healthy and depressed adults benefitted from exposure to TG, with possibly different pathways of mood improvement. Visiting therapeutic nature with contemplative features may provide valuable support for the treatment of depression in clinical populations and a self-care intervention in non-clinical populations.
... Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is correlated with reducing mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and mental health improvement (Carson et al., 2016). It has been well-established that outdoor physical activities positively affect peoples' mental health more than indoor PA (Thompson Coon et al., 2011;Bailey et al., 2018). ...
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Background While neighborhood safety and stranger danger have been mostly canonized to play a part in parents’ physical activity (PA) avoidance, less is known about the impact of parental stress and perceived risk on children’s PA avoidance and consequently on children’s level of PA and wellbeing. Understanding the contributors to children’s wellbeing during pandemic disease is the first critical step in contributing to children’s health during epidemic diseases.Methods This study employed 276 healthy children, aged 10–12 years, and their parents. Data were collected in October and November 2020, about 9 months after the local closing of schools due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Parents and children answered a separate set of questions. Besides the demographic information, the parents responded to questions on their stress level, perceived risk of COVID-19, and PA avoidance for children. Children responded to questions on their PA and wellbeing in the last week. Data were analyzed using SmartPLS and IBM SPSS 22.ResultsThe result of the study supported the four directional research hypotheses of the sequential study model. As hypothesized, parents’ stress and perceived risk levels of COVID-19 negatively affected children’s PA. The PA level was shown to predict children’s wellbeing and mental health. Housing type, parents’ job security, number of siblings, number of members living together in-home, and history of death or hospitalization of relatives or family members due to COVID-19 were found to be associated with parents’ stress and children’s mental health.Conclusion This study sheds light on parents’ role in children’s wellbeing and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents with higher stress and high restrictive behaviors might put their children at risk of mental disorders in the end.
... In addition to these physiological benefits, there are also psychological benefits of interaction with nature. For example, cognition can also be enhanced, with studies reporting improved Stroop test performance from walking in natural as opposed to built-up environments [24], as well as improved cognitive performance in individuals with major depressive disorder [25]. ...
Background: With the global burden of disease increasing, particularly in relation to often preventable chronic diseases, researchers and clinicians are keen to identify interventions that can mitigate ill health and enhance the psychological wellbeing of people living with long-term conditions (LTCs). It is long established that engagement with nature can support human health and wellbeing, and in recent years, nature-based interventions (NBIs) have been advanced as of potential benefit. This review thus sought to systematically appraise published evidence of the application of NBIs to address psychological wellbeing for those living with LTCs. Methods: A systematic search of three databases, PsycINFO, MEDLINE and SCOPUS, was undertaken, and the BestBETs quality assessment checklist was used to appraise methodological quality of elicited studies. Results: Of 913 studies identified, 13 studies (12 using quantitative methods, one qualitative) were used. Included papers reported use of a variety of psychological outcomes alongside more circumscribed physiological outcomes. Quality appraisal showed modest robustness, some methodological weaknesses and a dominance of application in developed countries, yet synthesis of studies suggested that reported psychological and physiological outcomes present a strong argument for NBIs having a promising and positive impact on psychological wellbeing. Conclusions: NBIs have positive psychological and physiological impacts on people with LTCs, suggesting they may be a suitable addition to current maintenance treatment. Future research should focus on minimising study bias and increasing the potential for cross-cultural applications.
... This increased benefit of nature-based exercise included greater levels of affect, 23,56,72,74,82,87,93,98 arousal, 65,76,82,93 restorativeness, 80,82,86,87 and tranquility. 33,56,57,81,87 Lower levels of fatigue, 65,87,93 depression, 66,73 anger, confusion, 73 and distress 80 were also associated with exercising in nature. The aforesaid finding held across the studies in question irrespective of study design, of the outcome measures that were involved, and of participant characteristics (i.e., the age, sex, and physical activity levels of the individuals who were involved). ...
... Currently, only seven studies have compared the effects of human exposure to a natural, green environment with an unnatural (urban or indoor) environment Bailey et al., 2018;Bratman et al., 2015;Joung et al., 2015;Neale et al., 2017;Park et al, 2007;, with little research now using image visualisation tasks with Neuroimaging (Chang and Chen, 2005;Kim et al., 2010;Kim and Jeong, 2014;Lee, 2017;Martínez-Soto et al., 2013;Roe et al., 2013;Tang et al., 2017;Ulrich, 1981). ...
Article
This study aimed to explore, on one side, the differences between a group of athletes exercising outdoor (OG) and another group exercising indoor (IG) in stress and awareness, and, on the other side, between-group differences in the fMRI activations during the visualization of natural environment images versus urban images. In addition, we aimed to analyze the associations between the resulting task-related brain activations and stress and attention-awareness in each group separately. All the participants (N = 49; OG = 21, 11 females, mean age = 40, SD = 6.49; and IG = 25, 11 females, mean age = 40; 6.19) underwent an fMRI scan and completed the Perceived Stress Scale and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. Besides, we collected a sample of hair cortisol. Participants viewed three types of images: water nature, green nature and urban images. Two-sample t-test with corrected p=0.001 values were carried out. Further correlational analyses were performed to estimate the associations between task-related brain activations and our pyscho-emotional measures in each group. Fisher tests were used to explore for potential between-group differences in the correlational indexes. In OG, compared to IG, we found a higher activation of the middle occipital cortex and a cluster comprising the supplementary motor area (SMA), the premotor cortex and the pre-SMA while viewing green nature images versus urban images. In OG, more than in IG, the higher activation of the left SMA cluster negatively correlated with perceived stress, while in the IG, more than in OG, the higher premotor cortex activation was positively related to the total score on MAAS. No significant association was found with the hair cortisol levels. Exercising outdoor would relate to better psycho-emotional outcomes, also for athletes. On the other side, the exposition to green nature led to higher activation of brain areas related to motor planning, but also to emotion regulation and emotional response.
Article
Purpose: This one-group pretest-posttest, designed within a subject study, looks to compare the effects of an outdoor nature walk (ONW) to those of a virtual nature walk (VRW) on memory and cognitive function. Implications are discussed for education as well as for the world of virtual reality. Methods: Sixty-four healthy university students were asked to complete an ONW and a VRW, which was created using 3D video of the same nature trail used for the ONW. The VRW condition involved a five-minute walk on a treadmill, while wearing a virtual reality mask (Oculus, San Francisco, USA) that projected a previously recorded three-dimensional capture of the same nature walk they experienced outdoors. Both experimental conditions lasted approximately 5 min and were counterbalanced between participants. A Digit Span Test (Digit) for working memory and a Trail Test (TMT) for executive function were administered to all study participants, immediately before and after each type of walk. Results: For executive function testing (Trail Making Test), our results demonstrate that both the ONW and VRW condition improved the TMT time, when compared to a baseline (ONW 37.06 ± 1.31 s vs. 31.75 ± 1.07 s, p < 0.01 and VRW 36.19 ± 1.18 s vs. 30.69 ± 1.11 s, p < 0.01). There was no significant difference between the ONW and VRW groups. Similarly, for the Digit memory task, both conditions improved compared to the baseline (ONW 54.30 ± 3.01 vs. 68.4 ± 2.66, p < 0.01 and VRW 58.1 ± 3.10 vs. 67.4 ± 2.72, p < 0.01). There was a difference at the baseline between the ONW and VRW conditions (54.3 ± 3.01 vs. 58.1 ± 3.10, p < 0.01), but this baseline difference in memory performance was no longer significant post exercise, between groups at follow-up (68.4 ± 2.66 vs. 67.4 ± 2.72, p < 0.08). Conclusions: Our results suggest that both a virtual reality protocol and a nature walk can have positive outcomes on memory and executive function in younger adults.
Chapter
Our capacity to pay attention—to employ top-down attention by directing our focus toward one idea or task while excluding from our consciousness a host of competing stimuli and thoughts—is key to every human achievement. But top-down attention is a limited resource that fatigues with use. Research demonstrates that having contact with nature, even in otherwise dense urban settings, can restore our ability to focus. Thus, access to natural elements in the form of parks, interconnected green corridors, street trees, rain gardens, green roofs, and green walls do more that provide attractive places for people to live, work, and play. They help people recover from the attentional fatigue that is part of everyday life. In doing so, these landscape elements help us achieve our goals in life. One implication of these findings is that we should redouble our efforts to ensure that we provide nature at every doorstep.
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Outdoor adventure activities have been used to facilitate a variety of positive outcomes. However, the practical challenge of collecting data in the field and a heavy reliance on self-report data render it difficult to understand the process of the experience. This study examined the association between self-reported valence and arousal and electroencephalography (EEG)-measured anxiety, focus, and approach motivation to determine the physiological and cognitive response to stressful stimuli and compare those objective measures with self-report assessments. Data were collected from 10 participants fitted with an EEG headset during rappelling. Spearman correlations and repeated-measures ANOVA were used to analyze the data. Results indicated significant changes in EEG readings for anxiety and approach motivation, and significant correlations between self-reported valence and EEG-measured approach motivation. The findings illustrated the acute internal response to a common adventure activity and demonstrated the influence of a novel challenge on the mind and body of participants. Significant changes in self-report assessments were reflected in similar changes in objective measures, indicative of the mind/body connection.
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Psychopharmacology is in crisis due to the increasing recognition that it does not work as claimed and has failed to meaningfully improve outcomes over what they were in the 1950s and ‘60s. Though still widely promoted to the public, the chemical imbalance theory of major mental health disorders is now openly acknowledged as not accurate by leading psychiatrists, thereby undermining the rational for this approach to care. A series of large comparative effectiveness studies funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) were each essentially failed trials with disappointing results and found that second-generation psychotropic medications were no more effective than their first-generation cousins. The evidence from several of these studies are reviewed within the scope of major depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders, and then compared to research on promising neuroregulation treatments. The author then makes recommendations for neuroregulation clinicians to avoid a crisis similar to that experienced in psychopharmacology today.
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Background Physical inactivity is a leading cause of morbidity, disability and premature mortality in the U.S. and worldwide. This study aimed to map the prevalence of physical inactivity across U.S. states over the past three decades, and estimate the over-time adjusted changes in the prevalence of physical inactivity in each state. Methods Individual-level data (N = 6,701,954) were taken from the 1984–2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annually repeated cross-sectional survey of state-representative adult population. Prevalence of self-reported leisure-time physical inactivity was estimated by state and survey year, accounting for the BRFSS sampling design. Logistic regressions were performed to estimate the changes in the prevalence of physical inactivity over the study period for each state, adjusting for individual characteristics including sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, marital status, and employment status. Results The prevalence of leisure-time physical inactivity varied substantially across states and survey years. In general, the adjusted prevalence of physical inactivity gradually declined over the past three decades in a majority of states. However, a substantial proportion of American adults remain physically inactive. Among the 50 states and District of Columbia, 45 had over a fifth of their adult population without any leisure-time physical activity, and 8 had over 30% without physical activity in 2015. Moreover, the adjusted prevalence of physical inactivity in several states (Arizona, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming) remained largely unchanged or even increased (Minnesota and Ohio) over the study period. Conclusions Although the prevalence of physical inactivity declined over the past three decades in a majority of states, the rates remain substantially high and vary considerably across states. Closely monitoring and tracking physical activity level using the state physical activity maps can help guide policy and program development to promote physical activity and reduce the burden of chronic disease.
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This paper investigates potential mental health benefits of outdoor and adventure education programs. It is argued that experiences made in successful programs can increase self-efficacy, mindfulness and subjective well-being. Furthermore, programs may reduce feelings of time pressure and mental stress amongst participants. Evidence comes from two pilot studies: In the school project “Crossing the Alps” (Study 1), 14-year-old participants reported an increase in life satisfaction, mindfulness and a decrease in the PSQ Subscale ‘demand’ after a successful nine-day hike through the German, Austrian, and Italian Alps. In the university project “Friluftsliv” (Study 2) participants scored higher in life satisfaction, happiness, mindfulness, and self-efficacy and lower in perceived stress after having spent eight days in the wilderness of the Norwegian Hardangervidda region, miles away from the next locality. The findings suggest that outdoor education and wilderness programs can foster mental health in youths and young adults.
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Behavior, attitudes, and lifespan development are key antecedents of happiness. However, little is known about the multivariate effect of those items on happiness. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the comparative impacts of leisure routines and attitudes on overall happiness and to elucidate how routine leisure activities and attitudes may influence happiness at different life stages. Questionnaires were completed by 379 students and 253 alumni members of the same university. Analysis of variance indicated alumni rated locus of control and happiness variables significantly higher than did current students. Students rated the leisure routine variable significantly higher than did alumni. Structural equation modeling showed leisure routines had a significant indirect effect on happiness with attitudes as a full mediator. Multigroup path analysis showed there is little variance between the two groups. Findings indicate that one's routine leisure activities and attitudes can have a significant positive effect on overall happiness, and this path is consistent at different life stages.
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This paper investigates the relation between mental engagement level and sustained attention in 9 healthy adults performing a Conners' " not-X " continuous performance test (CPT), while their electroencephalographic (EEG) activity was simultaneously acquired. Spectral powers were estimated and extracted in the classical EEG frequency bands. The engagement index (β/α) was calculated employing four different cortical montages suggested by the literature. Results show the efficacy of the estimated measures in detecting changes in mental state and its correlation with subject reaction times throughout the test. Moreover, the influence of the recording sites was proved underling the role of frontal cortex in maintaining a constant sustained attention level.
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Risky outdoor play has been associated with promoting children’s health and development, but also with injury and death. Risky outdoor play has diminished over time, concurrent with increasing concerns regarding child safety and emphasis on injury prevention. We sought to conduct a systematic review to examine the relationship between risky outdoor play and health in children, in order to inform the debate regarding its benefits and harms. We identified and evaluated 21 relevant papers for quality using the GRADE framework. Included articles addressed the effect on health indicators and behaviours from three types of risky play, as well as risky play supportive environments. The systematic review revealed overall positive effects of risky outdoor play on a variety of health indicators and behaviours, most commonly physical activity, but also social health and behaviours, injuries, and aggression. The review indicated the need for additional “good quality” studies; however, we note that even in the face of the generally exclusionary systematic review process, our findings support the promotion of risky outdoor play for healthy child development. These positive results with the marked reduction in risky outdoor play opportunities in recent generations indicate the need to encourage action to support children’s risky outdoor play opportunities. Policy and practice precedents and recommendations for action are discussed.
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Background. Previous work has demonstrated that a commercial gaming electroencephalography (EEG) system, Emotiv EPOC, can be adjusted to provide valid auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) in adults that are comparable to ERPs recorded by a research-grade EEG system, Neuroscan. The aim of the current study was to determine if the same was true for children. Method. An adapted Emotiv EPOC system and Neuroscan system were used to make simultaneous EEG recordings in nineteen 6- to 12-year-old children under “passive” and “active” listening conditions. In the passive condition, children were instructed to watch a silent DVD and ignore 566 standard (1,000 Hz) and 100 deviant (1,200 Hz) tones. In the active condition, they listened to the same stimuli, and were asked to count the number of ‘high’ (i.e., deviant) tones. Results. Intraclass correlations (ICCs) indicated that the ERP morphology recorded with the two systems was very similar for the P1, N1, P2, N2, and P3 ERP peaks (r = .82 to .95) in both passive and active conditions, and less so, though still strong, for mismatch negativity ERP component (MMN; r = .67 to .74). There were few differences between peak amplitude and latency estimates for the two systems. Conclusions. An adapted EPOC EEG system can be used to index children’s late auditory ERP peaks (i.e., P1, N1, P2, N2, P3) and their MMN ERP component.
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The Digit Span (DS) subtest of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Third Edition (WISC-III) is thought to be a measure of attention, concentration, sequencing, number facility, and auditory short-term memory. An optional WISC-III subtest and part of the Freedom from Distractibility (FD) factor, DS assesses several cognitive constructs, yet its utility in differential diagnosis has been questioned because poor DS or FD performance has been inconsistently associated with attention processes. In this study of 195 children referred for comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations, Digits Forward (DF) and Digits Backward (DB) component scores were found to be differentially predictive of attention, executive function, and behavior rating measures. Results suggest that DB is associated with attention and executive function processes, not the short-term rote auditory memory processes tapped by DF.
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Conventional functional connectivity (FC) analysis of fMRI data derives a single measurement from the entire scan, generally several minutes in duration, which neglects the brain's dynamic behaviour and potentially loses important temporal information. Short-interval dynamic FC is an attractive proposition if methodological issues can be resolved and the approach validated. This was addressed in two ways; firstly we assessed FC of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) node of the default mode network (DMN) using differing temporal intervals (8seconds to 5minutes) in the waking-resting state. We found that 30-second intervals and longer produce spatially similar correlation topography compared to 15-minute static FC measurements, while providing increased temporal information about changes in FC that were consistent across interval lengths. Secondly, we used NREM sleep as a behavioural validation for the use of 30-second temporal intervals due to the known fMRI FC changes with sleep stage that have been observed in previous studies using intervals of several minutes. We found significant decreases in DMN FC with sleep depth which were most pronounced during stage N2 and N3. Additionally, both the proportion of time with strong PCC-DMN connectivity and the variability in dynamic FC decreased with sleep. We therefore show that dynamic FC with epochs as short as tens of seconds is a viable method for characterising intrinsic brain activity. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.