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Walking Green: Developing an Evidence Base for Nature Prescriptions

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Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, 1810 Hinman Avenue, Evanston, IL 60208, USA
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Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, 5848 S. University Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
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Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, 244 Garden Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
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School of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, 1300 S. 2nd Street, Room 300 West Bank Office Building, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4338; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224338
Received: 27 September 2019 / Revised: 29 October 2019 / Accepted: 5 November 2019 / Published: 7 November 2019
Although the health benefits of exercise and exposure to nature are well established, most evidence of their interaction comes from acute observations of single sessions of activity. However, documenting improved health outcomes requires ongoing interventions, measurement of multiple outcomes, and longitudinal analyses. We conducted a pilot study to guide the development of a protocol for future longitudinal studies that would assess multiple physiological and psychological outcomes. Herein, we report psychological outcomes measured from thirty-eight participants before and after three conditions: a 50 min walk on a forest path, a 50 min walk along a busy road, and a period of activities of daily living. Changes in positive and negative affect, anxiety, perceived stress, and working memory are reported. We benchmark these results to existing studies that used similar protocols and also identify elements of the protocol that might impair recruitment or retention of subjects in longer-term studies. Linear mixed-models regression revealed that walking improved psychological state when compared to activities of daily living, regardless of walk environment (p < 0.05). Comparison of mean differences showed that forest walks yielded the largest and most consistent improvements in psychological state. Thus, despite a protocol that required a 3.5 h time commitment per laboratory visit, the beneficial effects of walking and exposure to a forested environment were observed. View Full-Text
Keywords: green exercise; nature prescriptions; nature Rx; physical activity; anxiety; directed-attention green exercise; nature prescriptions; nature Rx; physical activity; anxiety; directed-attention
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Koselka, E.P.; Weidner, L.C.; Minasov, A.; Berman, M.G.; Leonard, W.R.; Santoso, M.V.; de Brito, J.N.; Pope, Z.C.; Pereira, M.A.; Horton, T.H. Walking Green: Developing an Evidence Base for Nature Prescriptions. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4338.

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