What is Green Exercise?
Green exercise is defined as physical activity that takes place outside in natural settings. Activities might be direct, like looking at trees through a window or looking at photos of nature, or indirect, like talking with others when walking to the grocery store or walking in the park. Intentional activities include things like visiting a local garden or riding a bike. It encompasses many pursuits like gardening, biking, strolling, riding horses, flying kites, walking the dog, and taking part in local projects like planting flowers.
Physical inactivity is a worldwide public health issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than a quarter of the world’s population does not receive enough exercise, which increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases. (1)
Since obesity and inactivity rates are high, physical activity is essential to maintaining a healthy body weight. People who are already overweight or obese typically engage in less physical activity than those who are of a healthy weight, which raises the risk of being overweight. In addition to helping people lose weight, physical activity has other advantages like improving bone and muscular strength, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, improving sleep, lowering anxiety levels, and increasing endurance. Adults should generally engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity each week. (2)
Studies have shown that people who live in places with more green space engage in more physical activity, which suggests that green space may encourage physical activity. There is evidence linking access to green space to a decreased risk of obesity. Children, teenagers, and older individuals have been shown to benefit from exposure to nature, but nothing is known about the advantages for obese people. (3)
5 amazing benefits of outdoor exercise
Green exercise increases feelings of renewal and positive involvement. Positive mood subscales including stress, anger, and depression are also improved by all forms of green exercise. It’s interesting to note that the first five minutes of green exercise seem to have the strongest effects on mood and self-esteem, indicating a quick psychological health benefit. (4)
Top 5 benefits of outdoor exercise are:
- Improve physical health
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Improve self-esteem and mood
- Promote mental focus
- Improve mental health
Is Green Exercise More Motivating?
There is evidence to support the idea that engaging in physical activity while in a natural setting, may encourage people to do so by making involvement more enjoyable, providing opportunities for social connection, and increasing the frequency of activity. It’s interesting to note that engaging in eco-friendly workout activities changes how effort is perceived. For individuals exercising in a green way, the connection to nature may enable them to exercise harder without feeling more exerted. Exercise may be more fun if a person thinks of it as being simpler. Greater intensity can be attained during green exercise while simultaneously preserving adherence to and motivation for the activity by lowering the perceived effort experienced during the exercise.
Those who are obese must exercise more than adults in good health in order to prevent gaining weight again. However, people who are overweight or obese are frequently reluctant to engage in physical activity because doing the same amount of exercise will be more tougher for an obese person than for someone who is of a healthy weight. Natural environments may make exercise more fun, which makes it simpler for people to stick to a fitness schedule. This implies that environmentally friendly items may actually promote physical activity. (5)
Outdoor vs Indoor Exercise
While working out at a gym can have a number of advantages, working out in a park may have more health advantages. Outdoor physical exercise has advantages connected to better health that indoor activity does not, such as exposure to sunlight for adequate vitamin D levels. Furthermore, compared to indoor activity, outdoor activity demonstrates better gains in mental health. Building on the health advantages of outdoor activities, including exposure to nature when outdoors, has a synergistic effect on physiological markers and indicators of mental well-being. (6)
A green workout setting may have extra advantages for mental recovery in addition to helping the body be more attentive. The research has so far found changes in cardiovascular, endocrine, and autonomic function, which implies that exercise in nature and the outdoors has a psychophysiological effect. The use of indoor surroundings is crucial for examining the change in physiological markers previously noticed. This will have significant effects on employing outdoor exercise for illness prevention or rehabilitation, particularly cardiovascular disease.
Urban parks are critical for our everyday health and wellbeing since they present important chances to engage in physical activity. Exercising in nature may increase physical activity levels while lowering perceived exertion, changing physiological functioning (green exercise helps reduce stress), restoring mental fatigue, enhancing mood and self-esteem and perceived health. Exercise in green spaces and outside may therefore be a helpful natural remedy to address the health issues that developed countries face. It may also improve enjoyment and adherence to bring about good behavior changes.