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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(3), 280; doi:10.3390/ijerph13030280

A Lunchtime Walk in Nature Enhances Restoration of Autonomic Control during Night-Time Sleep: Results from a Preliminary Study

1
Centre for Sports and Exercise Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ, UK
2
Department of Applied Physics, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, Kuopio 70211, Finland
3
Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, P.O. Box 100, Kuopio 70029, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 10 November 2015 / Revised: 26 February 2016 / Accepted: 29 February 2016 / Published: 3 March 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [287 KB, uploaded 3 March 2016]

Abstract

Walking within nature (Green Exercise) has been shown to immediately enhance mental well-being but less is known about the impact on physiology and longer lasting effects. Heart rate variability (HRV) gives an indication of autonomic control of the heart, in particular vagal activity, with reduced HRV identified as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Night-time HRV allows vagal activity to be assessed whilst minimizing confounding influences of physical and mental activity. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a lunchtime walk in nature increases night-time HRV. Participants (n = 13) attended on two occasions to walk a 1.8 km route through a built or a natural environment. Pace was similar between the two walks. HRV was measured during sleep using a RR interval sensor (eMotion sensor) and was assessed at 1–2 h after participants noted that they had fallen asleep. Markers for vagal activity were significantly greater after the walk in nature compared to the built walk. Lunchtime walks in nature-based environments may provide a greater restorative effect as shown by vagal activity than equivalent built walks. Nature walks may improve essential recovery during night-time sleep, potentially enhancing physiological health. View Full-Text
Keywords: green exercise; nature; heart rate variability; vagal activity; autonomic function; walking; recovery green exercise; nature; heart rate variability; vagal activity; autonomic function; walking; recovery
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gladwell, V.F.; Kuoppa, P.; Tarvainen, M.P.; Rogerson, M. A Lunchtime Walk in Nature Enhances Restoration of Autonomic Control during Night-Time Sleep: Results from a Preliminary Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 280.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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