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Physical Activity in Outdoor Context: from education to psycho-physical well-being

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 15692

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Faculty of Human Sciences, Pegaso University, Naples, Italy
Interests: health promotion; healthy lifestyle; physical activity; quality of life
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Science, University of L’Aquila, 67100 L'Aquila, Italy
Interests: physical activity; health promotion; healthy lifestyle; exercise; sport Sciences; quality of life
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are seeking submissions for a Special Issue of Sustainability on the subject of “Physical Activity in Outdoor Context: from education to psycho-physical well-being”.

This research topic aims to empirically provide a contribution to the expansive and ever-growing literature about the effects of physical activity on mental and physical well-being.

Physical activity in natural environments is particularly important for improving human health and well-being, as it promotes practices and educational approaches that are ecologically sensitive, enhances social connections, connects people with their natural and cultural heritage, and fosters local identity and conservation consciousness. In addition, engagement with nature helps to develop a greater capacity of resilience and can contribute toward sustainable places and living.

This Special Issue aims to address this topic with a particular emphasis on how to transfer experimental interventions and findings to practical in-field applications. It may include studies from a range of contexts, including school-based physical education, recreational physical activity, promoting exercise for health protection, and nature-based and sustainable tourism.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical activity in a sustainable context;
  • Outdoor physical activity and health in older adults;
  • Outdoor physical activity among school-age children;
  • Outdoor physical activity and mental health;
  • Physical activity and cognitive function;
  • Role of outdoor physical activity across the life span;
  • Nature-based tourism and physical activity.

Dr. Francesca Latino
Dr. Valerio Bonavolontà
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. Sustainability 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 2400 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

  • outdoor education
  • physical activity in natural environments
  • psycho-physical wellness

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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14 pages, 287 KiB  
Article
Outdoor Education, Integrated Soccer Activities, and Learning in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Project Aimed at Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda
by Stefania Morsanuto, Francesco Peluso Cassese, Francesco Tafuri and Domenico Tafuri
Sustainability 2023, 15(18), 13456; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151813456 - 8 Sep 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1723
Abstract
This research aims to promote motor activity in children with autism spectrum disorder through the development of an adapted integrated soccer project played outdoors. The project is carried out in collaboration with the nonprofit “Smile Association” of the city of Frosinone (Lazio-Italy) and [...] Read more.
This research aims to promote motor activity in children with autism spectrum disorder through the development of an adapted integrated soccer project played outdoors. The project is carried out in collaboration with the nonprofit “Smile Association” of the city of Frosinone (Lazio-Italy) and the Pegaso and Parthenope Universities. The main purpose of the Smile Association is to provide an educational and sports service in an area poorly provided with opportunities for children with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to change their predominantly sedentary condition and, through corporeality, to improve cognitive, affective, and relational processes. Participation in sports activities allows for the development of motor skills, social interactions, and cognitive stimulation. There is a need for available resources and programs dedicated exclusively to children with ASD to help them develop social, motor, and cognitive skills. One of the programs that might be helpful is a structured group play program involving physical activity. In addition, through the project, a dense social network has been activated between the third sector, sports companies, and local health authorities. The project aims to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda in Articles 3, 4, and 11. This paper describes the correlation between learning and motor activity. According to the hypotheses of this research, integrated soccer activity implements cognitive skills, particularly those related to memory for visual stimuli and to the theory of mind, as well as sense-motor skills. Work carried out to improve attentional skills can reduce stereotypical behaviours. The results showed that continuous and regular engagement in motor activities has positive health outcomes for children with autism in terms of reduced symptomatology and improved quality of life. A total of 108 statistical units (the control group consisted of 18 statistical units, and the sample comprised 90 participants) aged 8 to 11 years were examined. The project is aimed at girls (in compliance with Art. 5 regarding gender equality); however, the participants identified by the local health authority are predominantly male. Full article
11 pages, 292 KiB  
Article
The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Outdoor Physical Activities for People with Disabilities, including the Risks for Psychophysical Well-Being
by Giacomo Farì, Pietro Fiore, Vincenzo Ricci, Alessandra Zonno, Marko Joksimovic, Domenico Petruzzella, Giulia Gioia, Denise Giarrizzo, Savino Mastrorillo, Brunella Coretti, Francesco Paolo Bianchi, Francesco Agostini, Antonella Muscella, Maurizio Ranieri and Marisa Megna
Sustainability 2023, 15(2), 1436; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15021436 - 12 Jan 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1977
Abstract
The restrictions and social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created many obstacles in the practice of outdoor physical activity (OPA) throughout the world, particularly for the most vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities. The aim of this study was [...] Read more.
The restrictions and social distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created many obstacles in the practice of outdoor physical activity (OPA) throughout the world, particularly for the most vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of pandemic-related limitations on the OPA of an Italian cohort of people with disabilities practicing sports. A retrospective observational study was conducted using an online survey. The questionnaire was distributed to 121 disabled athletes who practiced different outdoor physical activities. A total of 96 completed the survey, which collected demographic data, information about daily outdoor physical activity and sports habits, and about physical and psychological health before and during the pandemic. The frequency of daily OPA per week, along with the hours of physical activity, significantly decreased during the pandemic compared to those of the year before (p < 0.0001). A statistically significant deterioration was also found in the physical and mental well-being of disabled athletes during the pandemic (p < 0.0001) when compared to those from the year before the advent of COVID-19. This research demonstrated the negative impact of COVID-19 restrictions on OPA levels and on the physical and mental well-being of athletes with disabilities. It also highlighted a new challenge regarding the sustainability and integration of the national health system, demonstrating the necessity of improving the consistent accessibility of people with disabilities to OPA, both under normal conditions and emergency situations, in order to guarantee their psychophysical well-being. Full article
13 pages, 753 KiB  
Article
Secondary School Students’ Well-Being as an Effect of Outdoor Physical Activity versus Indoor Activity and Inactivity
by Marcin Pasek, Jakub Kortas, Xingxing Zong and Mariusz Lipowski
Sustainability 2022, 14(20), 13532; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142013532 - 19 Oct 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1790
Abstract
(1) Background: Well-being is a broad concept within which, among other components, self-esteem and general mood can be distinguished. Their formation can take place on the basis of contact with physical activity and with the natural environment. (2) Methods: The aim of the [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Well-being is a broad concept within which, among other components, self-esteem and general mood can be distinguished. Their formation can take place on the basis of contact with physical activity and with the natural environment. (2) Methods: The aim of the study was to compare the self-esteem and general mood of schoolchildren at different levels of contact with physical activity and the natural environment, distinguishing between active outdoor, active indoor and inactive groups. The study involved 306 secondary school students aged 16–19 years. The study used a diagnostic survey method, choosing a questionnaire technique. Two research tools in the form of survey questionnaires were used: Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale—SES and General Mood Scale—GMS. (3) Results: The results indicated physical activity as an important determinant of both well-being components studied. In the study group of adolescents, contact with the natural environment proved to be a non-significant determinant of well-being. (4) Conclusions: The hypothesis of a synergistic positive effect of physical activity and contact with nature on self-esteem and general mood, which was not confirmed in this study, should be verified among representatives of older age groups. Full article
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9 pages, 578 KiB  
Article
Pre- and Post-Activity Anxiety for Sustainable Rafting
by João Faria, Luis Quaresma, Stefania Cataldi, Filipe Manuel Clemente, Valerio Bonavolontà, Georgian Badicu, Gianpiero Greco, António Brandão, Michele De Candia, Roberta Frontini, Francesca Latino and Francesco Fischetti
Sustainability 2022, 14(9), 5075; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14095075 - 22 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1607
Abstract
This study aimed to (i) analyze the levels of state-anxiety of rafting customers, before and after the activity; and (ii) characterize the levels of trait-anxiety and the amount of physical activity performed weekly by clients of a rafting activity. The sample had 100 [...] Read more.
This study aimed to (i) analyze the levels of state-anxiety of rafting customers, before and after the activity; and (ii) characterize the levels of trait-anxiety and the amount of physical activity performed weekly by clients of a rafting activity. The sample had 100 subjects of a nature sports company, in the rafting activity, with a mean age of 33.27 ± 10.10 years, with 44% female and 56% male participants. They were evaluated in two moments M1 (pre-activity) and M2 (post-activity). In M1, the STAI—State-Anxiety questionnaire and the IPAQ—International Physical Activity Questionnaire (short version) were applied. In M2, the STAI Form 1 State-Anxiety questionnaire was applied again, followed by the STAI trait-anxiety. The results showed no correlation between the amount of weekly physical activity and levels of trait-anxiety (rho(100) = −0.144; p-value = 0.152), thus not corroborating with the existing literature. Regarding state-anxiety, we found that in 55% of cases, it decreased with the practice of rafting, which suggests that the practice may have an anxiolytic effect and promote the well-being and relaxation of participants promoting, in this way, the sustainability of the rafting activity. Full article
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12 pages, 3859 KiB  
Article
Adaptation of the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction in Tunisia: Teaching Strategies to Promote Sustainable Education in Schools
by Samia Boukari, Noomen Guelmami, Sabri Gaied Chotrane, Sami Bouzid, Aymen Khemiri, Antonella Muscella and Riadh Khalifa
Sustainability 2022, 14(5), 2489; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14052489 - 22 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1804
Abstract
The objective of the study was the translation and adaptation into Arabic language of the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction and the examination of psychometric properties among students in Tunisia. A set of students (N = 778) were recruited to complete a translated, [...] Read more.
The objective of the study was the translation and adaptation into Arabic language of the Questionnaire on Teacher Interaction and the examination of psychometric properties among students in Tunisia. A set of students (N = 778) were recruited to complete a translated, Arabic version of the Teacher Interaction Questionnaire (AQTI). The subjects represented both female and male with an average age of 15.98 ± 2.17 years. The subjects were divided into exploratory (N = 226) and confirmatory (N = 552) samples. For the exploratory sample, the female sex represented 46.90% and the male 53.10% (N = 120). Likewise, the confirmatory sample consisted of females (48.01%) and males (51.99%). The scale designed in Arabic AQTI presented eight components for exploratory factor analysis. The result was a first factorial solution, which kept these eight components of the predetermined instrument. The confirmatory factor analysis provided good fit indices. Similar results for instrument reliability were confirmed for all dimensions, through good Cronbach’s coefficient, which were superior to 0.80. The Arabic version of AQTI is valid and reliable and can be administered to assess teacher/student interactions in Tunisia. However, further research needs to examine the construct validity of the instrument. Full article
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Review

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13 pages, 617 KiB  
Review
Practicing Outdoor Physical Activity: Is It Really a Good Choice? Short- and Long-Term Health Effects of Exercising in a Polluted Environment
by Alessia Tescione, Francesco Misiti and Simone Digennaro
Sustainability 2022, 14(23), 15790; https://doi.org/10.3390/su142315790 - 28 Nov 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1447
Abstract
Background: Air pollution is an environmental risk factor for mortality and the fifth largest risk factor for all causes of death. The practice of regular physical activity is strongly encouraged to achieve a healthy lifestyle. During a physical exercise session, the volume of [...] Read more.
Background: Air pollution is an environmental risk factor for mortality and the fifth largest risk factor for all causes of death. The practice of regular physical activity is strongly encouraged to achieve a healthy lifestyle. During a physical exercise session, the volume of inhaled pollutants increases. The present study aims to report the evidence about the interaction between polluted air, physical activity, and the interactive effects of these two variables on individuals’ health in the light of the significant changes occurring in the daily routine of individuals practicing sport and physical activities after the end of the pandemic. Methods: A mapping review was performed on electronic databases to summarize studies reporting the effects of pollutants on specific health outcomes. A further analysis investigated how physical habits and air quality changed following the COVID-19 pandemic. Results: The current literature suggests that air pollution alters both short- and long-term health outcomes. Nonetheless, exercising is a protective factor against the harmful effects of air pollution. Conclusions: It is necessary for those who train outdoors to evaluate the external environmental conditions. The change should be aimed at improving air quality by implementing stricter legislative guidelines on air pollution thresholds. Full article
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Other

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14 pages, 297 KiB  
Protocol
Psychophysiological Data Harmonization for the Sustainability of Outdoor Activities
by Olga Papale, Emanuel Festino, Giancarlo Condello, Francesca Di Rocco, Marianna De Maio, Cristina Cortis and Andrea Fusco
Sustainability 2023, 15(22), 15838; https://doi.org/10.3390/su152215838 - 10 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1371
Abstract
Prolonged sedentary behavior is considered a risk factor for health throughout the human lifespan. Although outdoor activities, such as walking and hiking, can be effective in reducing sedentary behavior, there is a lack of data harmonization on the psychophysiological characteristics of hiking trails. [...] Read more.
Prolonged sedentary behavior is considered a risk factor for health throughout the human lifespan. Although outdoor activities, such as walking and hiking, can be effective in reducing sedentary behavior, there is a lack of data harmonization on the psychophysiological characteristics of hiking trails. Therefore, this research protocol aims to provide an innovative and uniform methodology to provide a psychophysiological characterization of hiking. Enrolled subjects will be allocated in groups equally distributed for age, physical activity level (physically active vs. sedentary), and sex (male vs. female). Subjects will perform two treadmill tests in laboratory sessions and two hiking tests in field sessions. The Ruffier test will be performed before each session to assess subjects’ exercise capacity. During each session, body mass measurement, cardiometabolic evaluation, heart rate and heart rate variability monitoring, rating of perceived exertion, and physical activity enjoyment rate will be assessed. To measure breath-by-breath ventilation, oxygen consumption, and energy expenditure, subjects will be equipped with a portable gas analyzer during one laboratory session and one field session. Findings from the present study protocol have the potential to fill a gap in assessing hiking-related fitness, promoting physical and mental health, and offering a practical way to evaluate fitness for hiking, encouraging outdoor activity. These findings will have the potential to impact tourism, health, and well-being through outdoor experiences. Full article
12 pages, 887 KiB  
Systematic Review
Are Physically Active Breaks in School-Aged Children Performed Outdoors? A Systematic Review
by Luca Petrigna, Federico Roggio, Bruno Trovato, Marta Zanghì and Giuseppe Musumeci
Sustainability 2022, 14(7), 3713; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14073713 - 22 Mar 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2321
Abstract
(1) Background: Children spend an ever-increasing amount of time performing sedentary behaviors, and an important part of their daily life is at school. Learning in an outdoor environment improves children’s physical activity levels, and their cognitive and social spheres. Furthermore, physically active breaks [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Children spend an ever-increasing amount of time performing sedentary behaviors, and an important part of their daily life is at school. Learning in an outdoor environment improves children’s physical activity levels, and their cognitive and social spheres. Furthermore, physically active breaks are a solution to reduce sedentary behaviors and improve well-being and academic performance. The study evaluated the published literature on physically active breaks during school hours and explored (a) if the interventions were proposed in an outdoor context and (b) the outcomes of these interventions. (2) Methods: This review collected 31,559 articles from different electronic databases. After the screening, the results were analyzed narratively. (3) Results: 41 studies have been included in the analysis. As reported by the results, most of the interventions took place in the classroom, and only three studies were performed outside. A common aspect of all studies is the feasibility of active breaks, assessing positive outcomes. (4) Conclusions: Physically active outdoor breaks are poorly adopted, highlighting the necessity for deeper study on this topic. Although the protocols considered present differences, generally breaks increase physical activity levels, present positive learning outcomes, and improve social well-being. Furthermore, they are sustainable in terms of time, cost, and effort of the teacher. Full article
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