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The effect of the visual exercise environment on the response to psychological stress: a pilot study

Wood, Carly and Flynn, Maria and Law, Robin and Naufahu, Jane and Smyth, Nina (2020) 'The effect of the visual exercise environment on the response to psychological stress: a pilot study.' Anxiety, Stress and Coping. ISSN 1061-5806

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Abstract

Background: Performing physical activity whilst exposed to nature can improve health. However, there is little evidence of its impact on stress outcomes. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of the visual exercise environment on the response to a psychosocial stressor. Methods: Eighteen participants were randomised to one of three conditions: i. control; ii. Nature or; iii. Built condition. Participants exercised for 30min on a treadmill at 50% of their VO2max whilst viewing a video of either a natural or built environment or a blank screen. Following the exercise, participants completed the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), a standardised laboratory stressor. Salivary samples were collected before, during and after the TSST to calculate cortisol reactivity and recovery. Results: One-way ANOVA revealed a significant effect of viewing condition on cortisol reactivity [F (2, 11) = 4.686, p = .034; n2p= .460]; with significantly lower reactivity in the built compared to the nature condition (p = .027, d=1.73). There was no effect of condition on cortisol recovery (p=.137; n2p= .257). Conclusions: In the context of the adverse health impact of lower (i.e. blunted) cortisol responding, these findings could indicate a negative impact of the built environment on stress responses.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: physical activity; green exercise; stress; health
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 14:02
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2020 16:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27509

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