Online Health Education Solutions

Green exercise boosts mental health

Sunday, May 9, 2010

  • Just a few minutes of exercise a day in a park can improve your mental health.

Green exercise is an activity in the presence of nature. It leads to positive short and long-term health outcomes. Many studies have shown that outdoor exercise can reduce the risk of mental illness and improve overall well-being. In an analysis to determine the dose of green exercise that is needed to improve mental health, researchers did a meta-analysis of 10 studies that studied the effect of different types of green exercise on a variety of populations. This multi-study analysis assessed the best regime of dose(s) of acute exposure to green exercise required to improve self-esteem and mood.

  • The research used meta-analysis methodology to analyze 10 UK studies involving 1252 participants of different ages, genders and studied their mental health status. The researchers analysed activities such as walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse riding and farming along with assessing the participants’ exercise intensity and exposure duration.
    It was found that exercising in a green environment improved both self-esteem and mood of the participants. The presence of water generated greater effects. Both men and women had similar improvements in self-esteem after green exercise, though men showed a difference for mood. The greatest health changes occurred in the young and the mentally ill, although people of all ages and social groups benefited. The largest positive effect on self-esteem came from a five-minute dose of green exercise. All natural environments were found to be beneficial, including parks in towns or cities.
    The above findings confirm that the environment plays an important role in improving overall health of people.


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