Physical, Psychological and Emotional Benefits of Green Physical Activity: An Ecological Dynamics Perspective

Sports Med. 2016 Jul;46(7):947-53. doi: 10.1007/s40279-015-0374-z.


Increasing evidence supports the multiple benefits to physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing of green physical activity, a topic of increasing interest in the past decade. Research has revealed a synergistic benefit of green physical activity, which includes all aspects of exercise and physical activity in the presence of nature. Our theoretical analysis suggests there are three distinct levels of engagement in green physical activity, with each level reported to have a positive effect on human behaviours. However, the extent to which each level of green physical activity benefits health and wellbeing is assumed to differ, requiring confirmation in future research. This elucidation of understanding is needed because previous literature has tended to focus on recording empirical evidence rather than developing a sound theoretical framework to understand green physical activity effects. Here we propose an ecological dynamics rationale to explain how and why green physical activity might influence health and wellbeing of different population groups. This framework suggests a number of unexplored, interacting constraints related to types of environment and population groups, which shape reported levels of benefit of green physical activity. Further analysis is needed to clarify the explicit relationship between green physical activity and health and wellbeing, including levels of engagement, types of environmental constraints, levels of physical activity, adventure effects, skill effects and sampling of different populations.

MeSH terms

  • Ecological and Environmental Phenomena*
  • Environment Design*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Recreation