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Special Issue "Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 May 2021) | Viewed by 24955

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Giovanna Calogiuri
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, University of South-Eastern Norway, Grønland 58, 3045 Drammen, Norway
2. Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Postboks 400 2418 Elverum, Norway
Interests: physical activity; health sciences; sports medicine; nature experiences; quantitative research methods
Dr. Jo Barton
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK
Interests: ’Green Exercise’; nature-connectedness; nature-based interventions for vulnerable groups; public mental health and wellbeing
Dr. Børge Baklien
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Postboks 400 2418 Elverum, Norway
Interests: public mental health; nature-based services; phenomenology; substance abuse; global mental health
Prof. Dr. Christopher J. Gidlow
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Centre for Health and Development (CHAD), Staffordshire University, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
Interests: applied research; natural environments and health; primary-care-based health and physical activity promotion
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Tadhg Macintyre
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Health Research Institute, University of Limerick, Limerick, V94 T9PX, Ireland
Interests: sport psychology; nature-based solutions; resilience; well-being

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Growing evidence in the past decade has shown that ‘green exercise’, i.e., any physical activity taking place in the presence of nature, often of a health-enhancing intensity, can lead to health benefits above and beyond those provided by physical activity alone. Such positive psychological, physiological, and social health benefits can support longer-term engagement in physical activity, as well as lead to greater nature connectedness and pro-environmental behaviour. Therefore, our chosen exercise setting has the potential to shape behaviours, facilitate physical activity, and enhance social connections.

The term ‘green exercise’ is not limited to physical activity taking place in ‘green’ spaces (i.e., environments dominated by the presence of grass and green foliage). An increasing body of evidence shows that physical activity in other natural environments, such as ‘blue’ spaces' (i.e., environments characterized by the presence of water) and even ‘orange’ spaces (i.e., landscapes dominated by fall foliage), can provide similar health-effects. In all cases, green exercise promotion has a potential role in relieving some of the health and economic burdens placed on society because of inactivity, whilst promoting broader health and wellbeing. However, a recent systematic review of the literature (Lahart, Darcy, Gidlow, and Calogiuri, 2019) emphasized how green exercise research is often constrained by methodological limitations, and called for rigorous and well-designed (possibly longitudinal) experimental trials.

This Special Issue seeks research papers on the health-promoting effects of green exercise in different populations. This may include studies investigating the additional health benefits of green exercise compared with physical activity in other environments, as well as studies determining how green exercise can contribute to increased levels of physical activity and sustained behaviour change. We prioritize (but are not limited to) well-designed randomized controlled trials, longitudinal studies, and evaluations of best-practice initiatives. We hope this Special Issue initiates a new movement of high-quality studies in the field of green exercise.

Prof. Giovanna Calogiuri
Dr. Jo Barton
Dr. Børge Baklien
Prof. Christopher J Gidlow
Dr. Tadhg Macintyre
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • active transport
  • behavior chance
  • cognition
  • exercise
  • health promotion
  • leisure
  • mental health
  • nature connectedness
  • physical activity
  • public health
  • recreation
  • restorative experience
  • stress
  • well-being

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Article
Understanding the Role of Nature Engagement in Supporting Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(7), 3908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19073908 - 25 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1209
Abstract
The importance of natural environments in supporting health and wellbeing has been well evidenced in supporting positive mental and physical health outcomes, including during periods of crisis and stress. Given the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been greatest for those who [...] Read more.
The importance of natural environments in supporting health and wellbeing has been well evidenced in supporting positive mental and physical health outcomes, including during periods of crisis and stress. Given the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been greatest for those who are most vulnerable, understanding the role of natural environment and alternative forms of nature engagement in supporting health and wellbeing for vulnerable groups is important. This study explored how nature engagement supported health and wellbeing in those with a pre-existing health condition during the first UK lockdown. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 17 adults with a pre-existing health condition and analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four themes were identified: COVID-19 versus nature; Nature as an extension and replacement; Nature connectedness; and Therapeutic nature. The findings show the importance of nature in supporting health and wellbeing in those with a pre-existing health condition through engagement with private and public natural environments, micro-restorative opportunities, nature connection as an important pathway, and the therapeutic benefits of nature engagement. The present research extends the evidence-base beyond patterns of nature engagement to a deeper understanding of how those with existing health conditions perceived and interacted with nature in relation to their health and wellbeing during the first UK lockdown. Findings are discussed in relation to health supporting environments, micro-restorative opportunities, and policy implications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)
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Article
How Does Being Solo in Nature Affect Well-Being? Evidence from Norway, Germany and New Zealand
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(15), 7897; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18157897 - 26 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1691
Abstract
Background: Solo—being intentionally solitary in nature—is receiving growing attention as a valuable outdoor education program component. Its practice and history have been researched in the context of experiential learning, but few studies have explicitly examined how solo experiences can affect dimensions of well-being. [...] Read more.
Background: Solo—being intentionally solitary in nature—is receiving growing attention as a valuable outdoor education program component. Its practice and history have been researched in the context of experiential learning, but few studies have explicitly examined how solo experiences can affect dimensions of well-being. This study investigated a broad range of well-being pathways provided by being solo, based on data from Norway, Germany, and New Zealand. Methods: Using qualitative content analysis (QCA), the solo debrief responses of 40 participants (26 females, age: 19–64 years) were analysed, applying the PERMA-V framework (emotions, engagement, relationship, meaning, achievement, and vitality). Variations in the reports were explored as a function of the national sample, gender, age, prior solo experiences and expectations. Results: The study suggests that hedonic and eudemonic well-being pathways, represented by the six PERMA-V pillars, interrelate strongly. The experience of a range of positive emotions and connecting process during solo highlights two of the most frequent findings related to well-being pathways. The secondary findings suggest minor variations in the well-being pathways for the different national samples, gender and age. Expectations and prior experiences with solo were identified as context factors with minor impact. Further, the data-driven analysis identified specific physical activities, landscape features, sense-activation, perception of time and ‘good’ weather as relevant to the specific experience. Conclusions: Solo experiences provide for well-being-related pathways in a multitude of ways, which highlights the well-being potential of solo implementation across practical fields beyond outdoor education, such as wilderness therapy, and environmental and planetary health initiatives. Future studies should continue to explore solo’s well-being potential in different settings, especially in the context of non-Western samples. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)
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Article
Nature-Based Interventions and Mind–Body Interventions: Saving Public Health Costs Whilst Increasing Life Satisfaction and Happiness
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 7769; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17217769 - 23 Oct 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4029
Abstract
A number of countries have begun to adopt prevention pays policies and practices to reduce pressure on health and social care systems. Most affluent countries have seen substantial increases in the incidence and costs of non-communicable diseases. The interest in social models for [...] Read more.
A number of countries have begun to adopt prevention pays policies and practices to reduce pressure on health and social care systems. Most affluent countries have seen substantial increases in the incidence and costs of non-communicable diseases. The interest in social models for health has led to the growth in use of social prescribing and psychological therapies. At the same time, there has been growth in application of a variety of nature-based and mind–body interventions (NBIs and MBIs) aimed at improving health and longevity. We assess four NBI/MBI programmes (woodland therapy, therapeutic horticulture, ecotherapy/green care, and tai chi) on life satisfaction/happiness and costs of use of public services. These interventions produce rises in life satisfaction/happiness of 1.00 pts to 7.29 (n = 644; p < 0.001) (for courses or participation >50 h). These increases are greater than many positive life events (e.g., marriage or a new child); few countries or cities see +1 pt increases over a decade. The net present economic benefits per person from reduced public service use are £830–£31,520 (after 1 year) and £6450–£11,980 (after 10 years). We conclude that NBIs and MBIs can play a role in helping to reduce the costs on health systems, while increasing the well-being of participants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)
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Article
Proposing a Framework for the Restorative Effects of Nature through Conditioning: Conditioned Restoration Theory
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6792; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186792 - 17 Sep 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2386
Abstract
Natural environments have been shown to trigger psychological and physiological restoration in humans. A new framework regarding natural environments restorative properties is proposed. Conditioned restoration theory builds on a classical conditioning paradigm, postulating the occurrence of four stages: (i) unconditioned restoration, unconditioned positive [...] Read more.
Natural environments have been shown to trigger psychological and physiological restoration in humans. A new framework regarding natural environments restorative properties is proposed. Conditioned restoration theory builds on a classical conditioning paradigm, postulating the occurrence of four stages: (i) unconditioned restoration, unconditioned positive affective responses reliably occur in a given environment (such as in a natural setting); (ii) restorative conditioning, the positive affective responses become conditioned to the environment; (iii) conditioned restoration, subsequent exposure to the environment, in the absence of the unconditioned stimulus, retrieves the same positive affective responses; and (iv) stimulus generalization, subsequent exposure to associated environmental cues retrieves the same positive affective responses. The process, hypothetically not unique to natural environments, involve the well-documented phenomenon of conditioning, retrieval, and association and relies on evaluative conditioning, classical conditioning, core affect, and conscious expectancy. Empirical findings showing that restoration can occur in non-natural environments and through various sensory stimuli, as well as findings demonstrating that previous negative experience with nature can subsequently lower restorative effects, are also presented in support of the theory. In integration with other existing theories, the theory should prove to be a valuable framework for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)
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Article
Regular Doses of Nature: The Efficacy of Green Exercise Interventions for Mental Wellbeing
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1526; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051526 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 20 | Viewed by 5570
Abstract
This study investigated the efficacy of medium-term Green Exercise (GE; being physically active within a natural environment) interventions for improving wellbeing, by pooling data collected at the start and end of participants’ engagement with a range of GE interventions. Hypotheses were that (i) [...] Read more.
This study investigated the efficacy of medium-term Green Exercise (GE; being physically active within a natural environment) interventions for improving wellbeing, by pooling data collected at the start and end of participants’ engagement with a range of GE interventions. Hypotheses were that (i) interventions would show good efficacy for improving wellbeing in the overall sample; (ii) compared to participants reporting ‘average to high’ wellbeing at the start of their project, participants with ‘low’ starting wellbeing would report greater improvements post-intervention; and (iii) improvements would significantly differ between age groups. The pooled dataset was categorized in line with UK norms (n = 318) and analyzed using a standardized meta-analysis approach. Effect size was large: g = 0.812 (95% CI [0.599, 1.025]), and differences in wellbeing changes associated with project duration, age or sex were not statistically significant. Compared to those reporting ‘average-high’ starting wellbeing, participants reporting ‘low’ starting wellbeing exhibited greater improvements (BCa 95% CI [−31.8, −26.5]), with 60.8% moving into the ‘average-high’ wellbeing category. GE can play an important role in facilitating wellbeing and can provide alternative pathways for health and social care practice. Public health commissioners should consider integrating such interventions for patients experiencing low wellbeing or associated comorbidities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)
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Article
Affective Outcomes of Group versus Lone Green Exercise Participation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 624; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17020624 - 18 Jan 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1730
Abstract
‘Green exercise’ (being physically active within a natural environment) research has examined the influence of environmental setting on health and wellbeing-related exercise outcomes. However, it is not known whether social exercise settings influence green exercise-associated changes in mood, self-esteem, and connection to nature. [...] Read more.
‘Green exercise’ (being physically active within a natural environment) research has examined the influence of environmental setting on health and wellbeing-related exercise outcomes. However, it is not known whether social exercise settings influence green exercise-associated changes in mood, self-esteem, and connection to nature. This study directly compared outcomes of participating in green exercise alone compared to in a group. Using repeated measures, counterbalanced and randomized-crossover design, participants (n = 40) completed two 3 km runs around sports fields. These fields had a relatively flat grass terrain, predominant view of trees, and open grassland. On one occasion participants ran alone and on the other they ran in a group of 4–5 participants. Questionnaire measures of mood, self-esteem, and connection to nature were completed immediately pre- and post-run. Across all of the measures, two-way mixed ANOVAs found that there were statistically significant effects for time but not for time-by-condition interactions. The simplest interpretation of this finding is that social setting does not influence individuals’ attainment of the psychological outcomes of green exercise participation. However, we discuss the possibility that more complex processes might underpin this finding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)

Review

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Review
Enable, Reconnect and Augment: A New ERA of Virtual Nature Research and Application
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1738; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051738 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 3348
Abstract
Being exposed to natural environments is associated with improved health and well-being, as these environments are believed to promote feelings of “being away” from everyday struggles, positive emotional reactions and stress reduction. Despite these positive effects, humanity is becoming increasingly more distanced from [...] Read more.
Being exposed to natural environments is associated with improved health and well-being, as these environments are believed to promote feelings of “being away” from everyday struggles, positive emotional reactions and stress reduction. Despite these positive effects, humanity is becoming increasingly more distanced from nature due to societal changes, such as increased urbanization and the reduced accessibility of natural environments. Technology is also partly to blame, as research suggests that people replace nature contact with increased screen time. In this cross-section between nature and technology, we find technological nature which is progressing towards a point where we may be capable of simulating exposure to real nature. Concerns have been raised regarding this technology, as it is feared it will replace real nature. However, research suggests that virtual nature may have a more positive impact on society than a mere replacement of real nature, and this review propose several areas where virtual nature may be a beneficial addition to actual nature (Enable), help people reconnect with the real natural world (Reconnect) and “boost” human-nature interactions (Augment). Based on the current research and theoretical framework, this review proposes guidelines for future research within these areas, with the aim of advancing the field by producing high quality research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)
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Review
Psychosocial and Physiological Health Outcomes of Green Exercise in Children and Adolescents—A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4266; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214266 - 02 Nov 2019
Cited by 26 | Viewed by 3727
Abstract
Both physical activity (PA) and nature exposure are associated with several youth health benefits. However, the health outcomes when being physically active in nature, called Green Exercise (GE), are less clear. Thus, the purpose of this systematic review was to provide an overview [...] Read more.
Both physical activity (PA) and nature exposure are associated with several youth health benefits. However, the health outcomes when being physically active in nature, called Green Exercise (GE), are less clear. Thus, the purpose of this systematic review was to provide an overview of the psychosocial and physiological outcomes of GE in children and adolescents and to outline future GE research directions. The PRISMA statement guided the review. Web of Science, PubMed, ERIC, and APA PsychNET were systematically searched in February 2019, including studies between 2000 and 2019. Fourteen of 1175 identified publications were included, which reported 15 different psychosocial and six different physiological outcomes, with some studies reporting more than one outcome. For 16 outcomes, studies reported either similar or no effects for both GE and comparison groups. For six outcomes, studies reported stronger effects for GE, for three outcomes, studies reported stronger effects in the comparison group. Evidence was rated as weak, using the EPHPP tool. Thus, GE does not have deleterious effects for children and adolescents compared to PA in other settings. GE might be beneficial; however, due to the study’s heterogeneity and quality, it is premature to make definite conclusions. Future research should build the quality of evidence for GE, use more rigorous research designs, and investigate the underlying effects and mechanisms of GE. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Green Exercise and Health Promotion)
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