Green Exercise and Health Benefits

green exerciseNew research from the United Kingdom has found that children who are exposed to scenes of nature while exercising are more likely to experience health-enhancing effects after their activity.[1] For the study, researchers asked children, aged nine to 10, to complete a series of 15-minute moderate intensity cycling activities.1 One was completed while viewing a video of a forest track that was synced to the exercise bike, and the second had no visual stimulus.1

The researchers found that after the “green exercise,” the children had lower post-activity blood pressure, indicating that nature scenes promoted positive health effects.1 In fact, the data showed that the children’s mean systolic blood pressure was 97.2 mmHg 15 minutes before they exercised, compared to 102.7 mmHg after normal activity, which is over five percent lower.1

Lower blood pressure is normally associated with a lower risk of developing future health problems, while high blood pressure, on the other hand, is a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease.1

Past studies have also found that outdoor exercising improves a person’s mental well-being also, and is associated with greater enjoyment and satisfaction.1

“Hypertension is a chronic health problem across the world, so given the results we’ve seen in our study, it’s crucial that we continue to try to understand the role physical activity and—in particular—green exercise plays in blood pressure,” said sports and exercise researcher Michael Duncan, PhD. “If there is indeed a correlation between viewing scenes of nature and a lower blood pressure post-exercise, as indicated by our data, it could have very positive implications in encouraging public health practitioners to prescribe outdoor exercise to reduce health risk.”1

Children should have access to an hour of outdoor, green exercise per day, where they can breathe in fresh air, run around, and stay fit. It reduces their stress, stimulates activity, and increases their overall health.

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). ‘Green’ Exercise Can Offer Added Health Benefits. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/04/08/green-exercise-can-offer-added-health-benefits/68237.html

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