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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(8), 905; doi:10.3390/ijerph14080905

A Randomized Crossover Trial on Acute Stress-Related Physiological Responses to Mountain Hiking

1
Department of Sport Science, University of Innsbruck, Fürstenweg 185, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
2
Institute of Ecomedicine, Paracelsus Medical University, Strubergasse 22, 5020 Salzburg, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Harry Timmermans
Received: 29 June 2017 / Revised: 4 August 2017 / Accepted: 9 August 2017 / Published: 11 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [942 KB, uploaded 11 August 2017]   |  

Abstract

Green exercise, defined as physical activity in natural environments, might have positive effects on stress-related physiological measures. Little is known about the acute effects of green exercise bouts lasting longer than 60 min. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to analyze the acute effects of a three-hour green exercise intervention (mountain hiking) on stress-related physiological responses. Using a randomized crossover design, 42 healthy participants were exposed to three different conditions in a field-based experiment: outdoor mountain hiking, indoor treadmill walking, and sedentary control condition (three hours each). At baseline and at follow-up (five minutes after the condition), stress-related physiological responses (salivary cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate variability) were measured. Salivary cortisol decreased in all conditions, but showed a larger decrease after both mountain hiking and treadmill walking compared to the sedentary control situation (partial η2 = 0.10). No differences were found between mountain hiking and treadmill walking in salivary cortisol. In heart rate variability and blood pressure, changes from baseline to follow-up did not significantly differ between the three conditions. The results indicate that three hours of hiking indoors or outdoors elicits positive effects on salivary cortisol concentration. Environmental effects seem to play a minor role in salivary cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate variability. View Full-Text
Keywords: green exercise; urbanization; cortisol; heart rate variability; blood pressure; allostatic load green exercise; urbanization; cortisol; heart rate variability; blood pressure; allostatic load
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MDPI and ACS Style

Niedermeier, M.; Grafetstätter, C.; Hartl, A.; Kopp, M. A Randomized Crossover Trial on Acute Stress-Related Physiological Responses to Mountain Hiking. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 905.

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