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Open AccessArticle

Benefits for Older People Engaged in Environmental Volunteering and Socializing Activities in City Parks: Preliminary Results of a Program in Italy

1
Centre for Socio-Economic Research on Ageing, IRCCS INRCA—National Institute of Health & Science on Ageing, 60124 Ancona, Italy
2
Department of Human Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
3
Laboratory of Geriatric Pharmacoepidemiology, IRCCS INRCA—National Institute of Health & Science on Ageing, 60124 Ancona, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 3772; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17113772
Received: 14 April 2020 / Revised: 22 May 2020 / Accepted: 24 May 2020 / Published: 26 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Economic Research on Ageing)
The objective of this pilot study was to investigate the feasibility of an environmental volunteering program involving park restoration and social activities for older people. Older people face a series of challenges, ranging from social isolation and depression to a lack of exercise, as well as the difficult task of creating new meaning to deal with a decrease in vitality and new social relationships, interests, and commitments. From this perspective, this pilot study aimed to contribute to highlighting if or how these aspects can be positively correlated with organized activities associated with caring for public green spaces. A single-group, pre-test/post-test design was used, and baseline and post-participation measurements were recorded. The data were collected using a questionnaire aimed at evaluating variations in physical activity, positive and negative emotions, life satisfaction, and perceived social support. Through focus group interviews with participants at the baseline and after one year of participating in the program, the participants’ motivations and experienced effects were explored. The sample was composed of a group of 19 healthy people who joined the program. The quantitative results showed that the participants’ level of physical activity, subjective life satisfaction, and positive feelings were significantly increased at the follow-up. Positive correlations were found between increasing moderate physical activities, walking, and The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) positive feelings. A pro-environmental attitude of the elderly emerged from the qualitative data. The results, limitations, and improvements of the study are discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: older people; volunteering; physical activity; pro-environmental attitude; subjective well-being older people; volunteering; physical activity; pro-environmental attitude; subjective well-being
MDPI and ACS Style

Gagliardi, C.; Pillemer, K.; Gambella, E.; Piccinini, F.; Fabbietti, P. Benefits for Older People Engaged in Environmental Volunteering and Socializing Activities in City Parks: Preliminary Results of a Program in Italy. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3772.

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