Does the outdoor environment matter for psychological restoration gained through running?

Author: Bodin, M.; Hartig, T.

Description: Objectives: Outdoor environments might amplify or hinder psychological benefits of exercise. Using types of outdoor environment commonly available for exercise, we assessed the moderating effect of environment on attentional and emotional restoration during a run.

Design: We conducted a field experiment with environment (park, urban), occasion (first run, second run), and time (pre-run, post-run) as within-subjects factors, and gender as a between-subjects factor.

Methods: Twelve regular runners (6 female, 6 male; mean age = 39.7 years) provided self-reports of emotions and behavioral measures of attention before and after each of two 1-hour runs in each of the two environments. The routes differed in amount of greenery, proximity to water, and presence of traffic, buildings, and other people. We also obtained background measures of stress and evaluations of the running environments.

Results: Characteristic of restoration, running reduced anxiety/depression and anger. It had inconsistent effects on attention. No Time x Environment interactions reached statistical significance. However, those for tranquility and anxiety/depression had medium-sized effects (rs=0.30) and were consistent with the hypothesis that the park would promote restoration while running to a greater degree than the urban environment. The runners preferred the park over the urban environment and perceived it as more psychologically restorative.

Conclusions: The findings encourage replication with greater statistical power. The study provides a point of departure for further research on potential moderating effects of commonly accessible outdoor environments on the psychological benefits of exercise.

Subject Headings: Exercise; Mental health; Emotion; Attention; Stress; Environment; Outdoor

Publication year: 2003

Journal or book title: Psychology of Sport and Exercise

Volume: 4

Issue: 2

Pages: 141-153

Find the full text :

Find more like this one (cited by):,16&hl=en

Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 2728