Forget the gym. If you want to elevate your mood and self-esteem while exercising, think green… and blue.
In a previous article, Walking Your Way to a Healthier Mind, Body, and Soul, I wrote that walking outside is a good way to calm and declutter your mind and let your thoughts roam freely. A recently published study by Jules Pretty and Jo Barton of the University of Essex (U.K.), as reported by the Environmental Science & Technology Journal, says that there is evidence to support the claim that green exercise — that is physical activity in the presence of nature — leads to positive short and long-term health outcomes.
In a study of 1,252 participants, both men and women had improvements in self-esteem after green exercise. The greatest change was in the youngest participants, with diminishing effects as we age. With regard to mood, the smallest change is in the young and the old; and the mentally ill, as a group, had one of the highest self-esteem improvements.
The best news of all is that the study showed that every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood, with water generating the greatest effects. In a meta-analysis of ten studies, researchers found that getting outside and moving for as little as five minutes at a time remarkably improves both mood and self-esteem.
The study confirms that the environment provides an important health benefit. The Journal further reported that several years ago, Jules Pretty and his colleagues had volunteers exercise on a treadmill while watching scenes projected on a wall. Participants who watched pleasant environments showed greater improvement in blood pressure and mood, and thereby increasing the positive effects of exercise, than those who watched unpleasant scenes or just exercised.
If you are a busy person living in a stressed environment, take a few minutes each day to go green and reap the rewards. Even a few minutes can change your perspective.
Ah, mother nature. She’s worked things out pretty well.
Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributor to Care2 Causes. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo
Read more: Blogs, Conditions, Family, Fitness, General Health, Green, Health, Living with MS, Mental Wellness, Multiple Sclerosis, Nature, bike, environment, green exercise, gym, mood, self-esteem, stretching, walking
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