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Green Exercise, Health and Well-Being

Part of the International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life book series (IHQL)

Abstract

Green exercise – physical activity or exercise while directly exposed to nature – positively affects psychological and physical well-being and health. Green exercise includes diverse activities (e.g. walking, running, cycling, swimming). It may be performed alone or in a group, with the aim of enhancing well-being, or combined with other aims such as leisure, social contact, health promotion or environmental education. Because of its role in health promotion, the level of activity of green exercise, as well as its psychological and physical outcomes, can be used as an indicator of quality of life.

Positive effects of physical activity are widely documented, but recent research on green exercise indicates that physical activity in natural settings brings additional positive effects beyond those of indoor activity: healthier levels of blood pressure and cortisol, vitality, increased energy, psychological restoration, well-being, positive emotions, and higher motivation to participate in physical activities. This is partly due to the emotional and physical benefits of contact with nature, which increases well-being and sense of life satisfaction. In contrast, urban life, separating and disconnecting people from nature, is associated with higher stress levels and loss of health status. Thus, urban planning and health promotion initiatives should take this into account in order to raise levels of contact with natural environments. Green exercise could thus be a useful tool to invert the sedentary trend of modern society and therefore improve human physical and psychological health and quality of life.

Keywords

  • Green exercise
  • Well-being
  • Health promotion
  • Relatedness with nature
  • Exercise motivation

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Loureiro, A., Veloso, S. (2017). Green Exercise, Health and Well-Being. In: Fleury-Bahi, G., Pol, E., Navarro, O. (eds) Handbook of Environmental Psychology and Quality of Life Research. International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31416-7_8

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