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Improve Mood and Self-Esteem With Green Exercise

Improve Mood and Self-Esteem With Green Exercise

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.

  • Take a walk or ride a bike in the park.
  • Lacking a park, take a walk or ride a bike outdoors on a tree-lined street. (If you live near a body of water, lucky you — don’t waste the opportunity!)
  • Start a small garden in your yard.
  • Create a simple stretching routine that you can do outside on your deck or patio.
  • If you work in an indoor environment, try to get outside during lunchtime for some walking or stretching.
  • Play outside with your children, or with the pets.
  • If you exercise indoors, bring the outside in, with plenty of plant life or an indoor garden, or position yourself in front of a window with a pleasant view.
  • The gym has it’s place, but going green will provide added mood and self-esteem boosters.

Ah, mother nature. She’s worked things out pretty well.

Read more: Blogs, Conditions, Family, Fitness, General Health, Green, Health, Living with MS, Mental Wellness, Multiple Sclerosis, Nature, , , , , , , ,

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102 comments

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3:43AM PDT on Aug 23, 2013

thanks

2:28PM PDT on May 23, 2013

I walk to town or mass each day about 20mins each way. If weather too bad, i walk on the spot or dance around while watching tv

4:30AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

Thank you. I'm off for a walk in a bit!

8:38PM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

great article, thanks for the info! :)

8:36PM PDT on Sep 24, 2011

great article, thanks for the info! :)

5:07AM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

Interesting study, thanks!

10:42AM PST on Jan 11, 2011

Nicole! That is a good point. While I appreciate the great benefits of walking in a green place, I have also experienced great benefits from certain indoor exercise. Shooting baskets for 40 minutes and a few sets of running around the gym make me feel terrific! If you live in a town with a Recreation Department, you could call and ask when you could shoot and run (or just shoot). Some gyms also offer free aerobic exercise classes, which used to make me feel terrific also. The great thing about both of these is, they can be done inside year round. Some people also walk briskly in malls for exercise. While I never got a high from that, possibly if you had a light-weight source of music while walking there -- an ipod for example -- results might be worthwhile.

9:31AM PST on Jan 11, 2011

Well that's great but what about people that live in the north... where it snows nearly half the year. I would love to be out walking every day but not only is it dark after work, it can be extremely cold. Any suggestions?

12:32PM PST on Jan 4, 2011

this makes me stop feeling guilty about not hitting the gym! I'd rather take a walk :)

4:17AM PST on Jan 4, 2011

It's a bit wierd that something so obvious needs to be reminded to people

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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