Physiological and Psychological Effects of a Walk in Urban Parks in Fall

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Nov 9;12(11):14216-28. doi: 10.3390/ijerph121114216.


In recent times, attention has been focused on the role of urban green spaces in promoting human health and well-being. However, there is a lack of evidence-based research on the physiological effects of walking in urban green areas. This study aimed to clarify the physiological and psychological effects of walking in urban parks during fall. Twenty-three males (mean age 22.3 ± 1.2 years) were instructed to walk predetermined 15-min courses in an urban park and in a nearby city area (control). Heart rate and heart rate variability were measured to assess physiological responses, and the semantic differential method, Profile of Mood States, and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory were used to measure psychological responses. We observed that walking in an urban park resulted in a significantly lower heart rate, higher parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than walking through the city area. In subjective evaluations, participants were more "comfortable," "natural," "relaxed," and "vigorous" after a walk in the urban park. Furthermore, they exhibited significantly lower levels of negative emotions and anxiety. These findings provide scientific evidence for the physiological and psychological relaxation effects of walking in urban parks during fall.

Keywords: heart rate; heart rate variability; profile of mood states; relaxation; state-trait anxiety inventory; urban green space.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Cities
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parks, Recreational*
  • Relaxation / physiology*
  • Seasons
  • Walking / physiology
  • Walking / psychology*
  • Young Adult