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If you're looking for a better way to stay in shape while also benefiting the environment, then green exercise might be just what you need. Our team at Fitness and Nature™ have compiled an extensive guide to green exercise examples to help you get started on your fitness journey while enjoying the beauty of nature.
What is Green Exercise?
Green exercise refers to physical activity that takes place outdoors, either in natural or green environments. It combines the benefits of physical exercise with exposure to nature. Green exercise is beneficial for both physical and mental health, reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
Benefits of Green Exercise
Green exercise provides numerous benefits, some of which include,
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress levels
- Boosts in self-esteem
- Increased physical fitness
- Mental clarity
These benefits have been supported by multiple studies and surveys conducted across different age groups.
What Does the Research Say About Green Exercise?
Research shows that green exercise can provide numerous benefits for both mental and physical health. One study conducted by the University of Essex, United Kingdom, showed that people who walked in natural environments experienced less anxiety and depression compared to those who walked in urban settings .
One of the underlying mechanisms for the benefits of green exercise is the combination of physical activity and exposure to nature. Physical activity releases endorphins which are known to reduce stress and improve mood. Exposure to nature aids in mental relaxation and decreases mental fatigue.
Although research supports green exercise, a few limitations deserve attention. The majority of studies were performed in high-income countries and among healthy populations, which may limit generalization to other populations and countries. Nevertheless, the results of such studies provide preliminary evidence that favorable impacts on health conditions can be achieved, which holds enormous potential for green exercise across different population groups.
Green Exercise Examples
Here are five examples of popular green exercises:
Hiking is a popular form of green exercise and can be performed as a group activity or solo. Hiking provides moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise while being surrounded by scenic views and natural beauty. Hiking can help in weight loss efforts and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as hypertension and heart disease .
Biking is an excellent form of transportation and exercise that can help reduce carbon emissions. It is a great way to explore your surroundings while getting in some exercise. Biking can be performed on various terrains from flat roads to more challenging mountain trails and can provide low to high intensity workouts depending on the difficulty of the terrain .
Swimming can be performed in oceans, lakes, rivers, or even backyard pools, weather permitting. Swimming is an excellent form of low-impact aerobic exercise and can provide an excellent full-body workout. The soothing effects of water can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation .
#4 Outdoor Yoga
Outdoor yoga is a form of mind-body exercise that can connect you closer with nature while promoting relaxation, mindfulness and body stretching. Practicing yoga on a grassy field, in a park or near calming water sources can enhance the experience. Outdoor yoga can benefit different aspects of your health including but not limited to muscle strength and mental relaxation .
Gardening is a form of green exercise that enables you to take care of both your plants and your health. It is an excellent opportunity to get some light aerobic exercise, to work your muscles, and enjoy the fresh air. Studies have revealed that gardening can lower stress levels, reduce anxiety and depression, and contribute to improved mental health .
Why Walking is Considered as Green Exercise?
Walking is one of the most accessible and easiest forms of green exercise. You do not need any special skills or equipment. Walking can burn calories, promote blood circulation, and provide numerous health benefits. Walking among trees or in nature can also lead to mental clarity and an escape from everyday pressures .
Forces of Nature
Many people decide to incorporate green exercise into their fitness routine because of the escape they get from civilization, the chance to connect with nature, and their personal preferences. There are additional benefits to being outdoors, including improved air quality and natural light exposure. It is important to consider the forces of nature when participating in green exercise. Here are some tips to remain safe while taking part in green exercise:
Tip 1: Check the Weather
It is critical to monitor the weather forecast before attempting green exercise, especially when a thunderstorm, extreme cold or heat, or high winds are expected. Know what to anticipate, and plan your route, including careful consideration of any dangerous or challenging terrain.
Tip 2: Dress Appropriately
Dress accordingly to the temperature fluctuations and any anticipated weather changes, and check the forecast and plan appropriately. Avoid wearing cotton because it stays wet for a long time, and wear breathable clothing that dries quickly.
Tip 3: Wear Sunscreen
It is still necessary to wear sunscreen when participating in green exercise, especially when using reflection from the sun or when snow is on the ground. Apply at least SPF 30, and reapply every two hours if you're working out for an extended period.
Tip 4: Stay Hydrated
You must consume enough fluids when engaging in green exercise; bring a water bottle or hydration pack, especially in warmer months, during more intense activities, or when you're exercising for at least one hour. Drinking water keeps you hydrated and reduces the risk of heat exhaustion.
A Nature Therapy Guide Shares Her Insights
Jenny, a certified nature therapy guide, claims that as much as nature has a positive impact on people's health, she ensures that individuals have a positive experience. She advises on different nature activities that can help promote overall wellness:
- Mindful nature walks
- Forest bathing
- Ecotherapy group sessions
- Nature appreciation activities
In any green exercise endeavor, always follow common sense and safety guidelines to increase your chances of success.
What is Meant by Green Exercise?
Green exercise encourages physical activities and workouts in nature or green environments. It is an ideal way to incorporate nature into a fitness routine.
What are the 5 Benefits of Green Exercise?
Green exercise helps to reduce stress, improves mood, increases physical and mental fitness, boosts self-esteem, and promotes mental clarity.
Why is Walking Considered a Green Exercise?
Walking is considered a green exercise because it can be performed in various green spaces and does not require any equipment or experience. Walking in nature offers mental clarity, relaxation, and escape from everyday pressures.
Quick Tips and Facts
These tips and facts can help guide and motivate green exercise enthusiasts:
- National parks are open to the public and can provide a great place to go outdoors for green exercise.
- The terms "green exercise" and "nature therapy" are often used interchangeably.
- When you experience the mental health benefits of green exercise, it is known as nature therapy.
Green exercise is a unique way to get in shape while connecting with nature. It promotes a healthy environment while enjoying the benefits of physical activity. Incorporating green exercise in your life can be as conventional or innovative as you desire. Engage in the natural beauty that surrounds you and nourish your overall well-being. If you are interested in experiencing the positive effects of green exercise, we recommend that you try one of the five green exercises mentioned in this guide.
Barton, J., Griffin, M., & Pretty, J. (2011). Exercise-, Nature- and Socially Interactive-Based Initiatives Improve Mood and Self-Esteem in the Clinical Population. Perspectives in Public Health, 131(6), 259-266.
National Park Service. (n.d.). Hiking. Retrieved July 1, 2023, from https://www.nps.gov/subjects/trails/index.htm
Active Transportation Alliance. (2018). Benefits of Biking. Retrieved July 1, 2023, from https://activetrans.org/sites/files/Everyday_Biking.pdf
Okvat, H., & Zautra, A. (2011). River, lake, or pool: comparative effects of aquatic environments on physical and psychological stress reduction. The Environment and Behavior, 33(2), 291-323.
Oken, B.S. et al. (2023). Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness Meditation and Hatha Yoga for Veterans with PTSD. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 45(4), 1-15.
Soga, M., Gaston, K.J., & Yamaura, Y. (2016). Gardening is Beneficial for Health: A Meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine Reports, 5, 92-99.
Li, Q., Otsuka, T., Kobayashi, M., Wakayama, Y., & Inagaki, H. (2011). Acute Effects of Walking in Forest Landscapes in Healthy Adults. Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, 15(1), 18-26.