Study Reveals 5 Minutes of ‘Green Exercise’ Boosts Mental Health


You many not get abs of steel, but according to a new study recently published in The Journal Environmental Science & Technology, your mood and sense of personal well being can be lifted after five minutes of “Green Exercise.”

Green exercise, the Journal explains, is activity in the presence of nature. The study reveals that every green environment provides an important health service; being outdoors improves both self-esteem and mood, and that the presence of water generates even greater positive effects.

The research used meta-analysis methodology (a statistical technique that reviews quantitative research) to analyze 10 U.K. studies involving 1252 participants. Ten studies undertaken by the University of Essex over the past six years were selected for inclusion. Detailed research questions related to physical activities (duration and intensity), types of green places, and participant characteristics (age, sex, health status) were used.

Among the activities observed were cycling, gardening, walking, fishing, boating, and horseback riding in various environments such as the countryside and farmland, forest and woodland, urban green, and near water.

The Profile of Mood States (POMS) was used to quantify changes in mood, and measurements were taken immediately pre and post-activity or intervention. The study was created by Jo Barton and Jules Pretty from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society at the University of Essex in the U.K.

Their findings suggest that attention should be given to developing the use of green exercise as a therapeutic intervention (green care), that planners and architects should improve access to green space (green design), and that children should be given opportunities to learn in outdoor settings (green education). Employers, they say, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest Green Space to improve mental health, which may in turn affect productivity.

So the next time you need a boost, look for a park, a few trees, a pond, or even a Green Roof and take five.

Image: mariachily