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Psychological benefits of outdoor physical activity in natural versus urban environments: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of experimental studies.

Wicks, Claire and Barton, Jo and Orbell, Sheina and Andrews, Leanne (2022) 'Psychological benefits of outdoor physical activity in natural versus urban environments: A systematic review and meta‐analysis of experimental studies.' Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 2022 (3). pp. 1037-1061. ISSN 1758-0846

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Abstract

The impact of environmental context on the psychological benefits derived from physical activity has attracted attention in recent years. Previous reviews have compared effects of indoor versus outdoor exercise. This review compares the effects of physical activity undertaken in outdoor green natural environments versus outdoor urban environments on psychological health outcomes in adults general populations. An electronic literature search identified 24 experimental studies meeting the inclusion criteria. Results were analysed via narrative synthesis (n = 24) and meta analysis (n = 9) of effect on six outcomes. Narrative synthesis found in favour of the natural environment for anxiety, anger/hostility, energy, affect and positive engagement. Post-intervention effect sizes suggested duration and social context as potential moderators. The meta-analyses revealed large or moderate effects in favour of the natural environment for anxiety, fatigue, positive affect and vigour, and a small effect for depression. Results were subject to high risk of bias and heterogeneity. Psychical activity undertaken outdoors in natural environments is more beneficial for a range of psychological outcomes compared with urban environments. The various effects sizes evident in the meta analyses may be explained by differing mechanisms through which psychological gains are experienced during physical activity in nature.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: environment; green exercise; psychological health; physical activity
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Faculty of Science and Health > Health and Social Care, School of
Faculty of Science and Health > Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2022 12:59
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2022 02:30
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32590

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