Defining Green Exercise
Green exercise is any form of physical activity that takes place in urban green spaces like city parks and campuses maintained by people or in natural green spaces with minimal human upkeep.
What the Research Says
Study findings on green exercise speak loudly: The advantages of exercising in healthy, natural environments go beyond the benefits of exercising in synthetic indoor locations. Green exercise delivers physical, mental and even spiritual rewards and has positive effects on health, well-being and athletic performance. Being active in nature has many advantages compared with doing the same activity inside or on city streets:
- more stress relief
- clearer thinking
- improved attention and concentration
- enhanced mood and more happiness
- less anxiety
- greater self-confidence
- more vitality
- more feelings of being refreshed
- reduced pain sensations
- less fatigue for the same amount of physical work
- improved quantity and quality of nighttime sleep
- enhanced mindfulness or present-moment awareness
The theory that exposure to nature is in itself beneficial to people is bolstered by studies that show that viewing videos of nature scenes, having indoor foliage or flowers, seeing nature through a hospital room window, or simply having green classroom walls boosts mental and physical well-being and performance.
Ready to Take It Outdoors?
With an understanding of current green-exercise research, we’re reminded that being active in nature is restorative to brain, body and spirit. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul,” said environmentalist John Muir.
Perhaps it’s time to take some barefoot walks in the grass.