Exercise as it relates to Disease/Green exercise on mental and physical health
The following page is a critique of the research article called "The Mental and Physical Outcomes of Green Exercise" by Prof. Jules Pretty, Jo Peacock, Martin Sellens & Murray Griffin.
What is the background of this research?
We know that regular exercise and physical activity can have positive effects on physical and mental health. But what about green exercise and what is green exercise? Green exercise is performing some sort of physical activity/exercise in a natural environment. Australia is known for its beautiful beaches, breathtaking bushlands, and cities like concrete jungles with a lot of room to do some sort of exercise. Meaning Australia has a great quantity of area to do 'Green exercise'. We know what green exercise is but what are some of the benefits? Green exercise can offer a multitude of health benefits such as a positive relationship with exercise and a reduction in depression and anxiety, which are some of the leading mental illness's and increased self-esteem.
Where is the research from?
This research was published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research. The researchers of this article are well known in fields of Biological Sciences, Ecology, and Sustainable Agriculture.
The data for this study was collected from 45 males and 55 females with their age ranging from 18-60. The subjects for this research were either undergraduates or employees from the University of Essex or from the community in Colchester in the UK. The findings of this study were based in the UK but these results can be relevant to Australia.
What kind of research was this?
This research was a mixed method (multimethodology) study which consisted of quantitative and qualitative methods and data. Mixed methods research or multimethodology is research that includes more than one type of data collection. The types of data collection were exercise and using photographs used to elicit a response to exercise. A group of 100 people consisting of 45 males and 55 females and aging from 18-60 was divided into 5 groups.
- Control Group: The control group is used to design an experiment in which the group does not receive the treatment being used in the research. In this study, the control group was running without any exposure to the images, only a blank white screen. This is suitable control because it allows the exercise based intervention group to be compared to the group with exercise only control.
- Intervention Group: The intervention group were treated with exercise and had exposure to four categories of images. Rural pleasant, rural unpleasant, urban pleasant, and urban unpleasant were the images selected. This was done while exercising on a treadmill whilst a total of 30 scenes were presented on a wall.
A mixed method study is a research that requires a collection of data, analyzing and quantitative and qualitative research. A mixture of quantitative and qualitative gives the researcher an understanding of the depth and verification.
What did the research involve?
The research looked at the effects of exercise on a total of 100 adults which consisted of 55 female and 45 female subjects with an age range from 18-60. They were exposed to different photographic rural and urban scenes. The participants provided information through questionnaires, cardiovascular measures, body composition, and personal opinions as seen in Table 1.
|Questionnaire||Physiological Measures||Body Composition||Personal Opinions|
|Profile of Moods Questionnaire||Polar Heart Rate Monitor||Weight (kg)||RPE Scale|
|Roosenburg Self-Esteem Questionnaire||Cardiosport Transmitter Belt||Height (m)||Exercise Habits|
|PAR-Q General Health Questionnaire||Blood Pressure||Perspectives on Natural Environment|
What were the basic results?
|Outcome Measure||Intervention (Photographs)||Control (Exercise Only)|
|Blood Pressure (Systolic,Diastolic,MAP)||Significant Improvement||Improvement|
|Blood Pressure Increased/Decreased||Decreased||Decreased|
|Self Esteem||Significant Improvement||Improvement|
|Effects of Exercise on all Subjects||Significant Improvement||Improvement|
The results presented are accurate to the data from the study. There is a clear effect on blood pressure, self-esteem, and mood for both intervention and control groups. In relation to mood, exercise alone had a positive outcome on 4 of 6 mood measures. Rural and Urban Pleasant Scenes had a beneficial effect on self-esteem than the exercise control. In contrast, Urban Unpleasant Scenes reduced the positive effects of exercise such as the benefits of exercise and mood.
What conclusions can we take from this research?
The conclusions from the authors, that exercise on its own showed a reduction in blood pressure, a positive effect on 4/6 mood measures, and increased self-esteem. When viewing rural pleasant and urban pleasant scenes, it showed to have a positive effect on overall mental health and showed positive physiological effects. The only area it showed to impair mental health was when in the urban unpleasant scenes.  This shows that exercising outdoors can be more beneficial on mental health and possibly on physical health in relation to exercising indoors. Since the publication of this study, there have been further studies that promote the effects of green exercise and green exercise on children.  
- Instead of exercising indoors, opt for an outdoor alternative.
- When exercising outdoors, mix up the areas you exercise.
- Green exercise is a cheap and free alternative, especially to developing countries.
- Try to meet the physical activity guidelines of 30 mins of exercise/physical activity.
- A combination of exercise and nature can be a powerful tool to fight physical inactivity.
- A summary of Green Exercise and its benefits: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/green_exercise_can_improve_physical_and_mental_health
- An Australian perspective on Green Exercise and different ways to do it: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-alerts/news/green-exercise-outdoors-nature-physical-mental-health
- Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines for Australia: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines
- Prof. Jules Pretty, (2006), The Mental and Physical Health Outcomes of Green Exercise. International Journal of Environmental Health Research. vol 15 pp 319-337
- . Queensland Government (Queensland Health), (2018) What is green exercise and should you be doing it? Queensland Government, Department of Health
- Valerie F Gladwell, (2013) The great outdoors: how green exercise environment can benefit all. Extreme Physiology & Medicine
- Research Gate. (2018). Jules N Pretty. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jules_Pretty
- FoodRisc Resource Centre, (2016) Mixed methods research.
- Akers, (2012) Visual Color Perception in Green Exercise: Positive Effects on Mood and Perceived Exertion. Environ. Sci. Technol. 46 (16), pp 8661–8666
- Reed, K. et al. (2013) A Repeated Measures Experiment of Green Exercise to Improve Self-Esteem in UK School Children.
- Duncan, M. et al. (2014) Blood Pressure, Heart Rate and Mood State in Primary School Children. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 11(4), 3678-3688.