The study found the majority of people saw a difference in their mental well-being when exercising outdoors compared to indoors. Increased energy, revitalization and positive engagement were some of the improvements marked. There were also signs of decreases in confusion, tension, depression and anger. Participants were also more likely to repeat the exercise outdoors at a later time.
The senior author of the study, Professor Michael Depledge, Chair of Environment and Human Health at the ECEHH, added: "Some 75 per cent of the European population now live in urban environments, so that increasing efforts need to be made to re-connect people with nature via programmes such as the Green Gym and Blue Gym. Our research, which brings together data from a wide variety of sources, adds significant weight to the case for spending more time in the natural environment as members of the public and their clinicians fight to counteract the negative outcomes of modern living, such as obesity and depression. We look forward to conducting the further research and trials required to establish the evidence-base for introduction of outdoor activity into general lifestyle to complement therapeutic intervention."
Dr. Jo Thompson-Coon, PenCLAHRC Research Fellow, commented: "The hypothesis that there are added beneficial effects to be gained from exercising in the natural environment is very appealing and has generated considerable interest. By using the data currently available to us we have added strength to the link between mental and physical well-being and outdoor exercise, but further research and longer, tailor-made and focused trials are needed to better understand this link."
However, none of the identified studies measured the effects of physical activity on physical well-being, or the effect of natural environments on sticking to exercise. Perhaps from these findings it may be beneficial to simply take your regular indoor exercise routine and move it outside for an added benefit. Lifting weights for example is something that can be done both indoors and out.
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The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry
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