(NaturalNews) `Green exercise` refers to any physical activity that takes place in the presence of nature. It can be as simple as a walk through the park or time spent gardening. All that really matters is that the body is in motion and nature is in sight. A study recently published in Environmental Science and Technology has shown that green exercise leads to improved mood and self-esteem.
It is already well documented that exercise benefits both physical and mental health. It is also known that exposure to natural landscapes can enhance mood. Researchers at the University of Essex set out to determine whether a combination of the two could produce synergistic improvements in mental health. According to their findings, exercise and nature do complement one another. The positive outcomes of exercise are increased when the experience takes place in a natural setting.
The current study, conducted by Jules Pretty and Jo Barton, examined data from 10 previous studies in order to assess the effect of green exercise on health outcomes. From these studies, a total of 1,252 individuals were included in the analysis, allowing the authors to show that green exercise improves mood and self-esteem.
The most notable improvement for both markers of mental health occurred after only five minutes of physical activity, suggesting that green exercise imparts immediate positive effects. This finding offers great news for those looking to fit more exercise into their daily routine. Even on the busiest of days, it`s possible to carve out five minutes for a walk.
It turns out that all natural environments are beneficial, especially those that include a body of water. Apparently, green and blue together provide extra benefit. Another interesting aspect of this study is its recommendation that green exercise be viewed as a form of prescribed therapy to be administered in regular doses. According to Dr. Pretty, this research is the first to "show dose-response relationships for the positive effects of nature on human mental health."
On a larger scale, this study and others like it have the potential to impact city planning in such a way that would increase access to recreational facilities, greenways and parks.
Jo Barton, Jules Pretty. What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis.Environmental Science & Technology, 2010 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es903183r)
Jeremiah Smith is a licensed and practicing pharmacist with a strong interest in nutrition and natural medicine. He is driven by a thirst for knowledge and a passion for helping others achieve optimal health. Smith writes articles on a range of topics related to wellness. You can visit his website at (http://www.anewvision.info/)