Facilitators and barriers to green exercise in chronic pain

Ir J Med Sci. 2019 Aug;188(3):973-978. doi: 10.1007/s11845-018-1923-x. Epub 2018 Oct 30.


Background: Green exercise, defined as exercising in nature, demonstrates mental and physical health benefits. There is limited literature on green exercise as part of the treatment for chronic pain. Our objective was to investigate chronic pain patients' perceptions of green exercise and the possible barriers that may arise in employing it as part of their treatment regimes.

Methods: After institutional ethics committee approval, a convenience sample of 113 adult patients, who attended a chronic pain clinic, were included. Participants completed a questionnaire that included a variety of questions with responses reported using a Likert scale.

Results: The most frequent patient age was 50-70 years in 49% of respondents and the most frequent pain complaint was back pain (62%). Ninety-four percent of participants reported that nature improves their mood. Seventy percent of participants reported that green spaces were easily accessible to them on a regular basis. However, up to 38% reported that they would not be able to commit to three times a week of a green exercise regime. The majority (62% of participants) reported that they would like healthcare practitioners to discuss green exercise with them.

Conclusion: Patients who suffer from chronic pain may be interested in green exercise as part of their treatment regime. Barriers that were identified included proximity to outdoor locations, time availability, and personal appraisal of the benefits of exercise for their condition. Green exercise should be considered as a part of a chronic pain treatment plan, and future studies should be directed to evaluating its efficacy in chronic pain.

Keywords: Exercise; Green; Pain.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged