Place, green exercise and stress: An exploration of lived experience and restorative effects

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Abstract

This paper reports on inter-disciplinary research designed to investigate the stress-buffering effects of green exercise, and the importance of the context in which exercise takes place. This investigation of context effects examines both individual physiological responses (salivary cortisol) and the phenomenological interpretation of lived experiences of the intervention, reported by a subsample of participants in a randomized, controlled trial, in which healthy, physically inactive university students were randomly allocated to three activities: walking on a treadmill in a gym, walking in semi-natural recreational area, and sitting and watching nature-based videos on TV. The study found clear indications of context effects, notably in the connections between positive appraisals of perceived circumstances, enjoyment in the enacted context, and physiological stress-reduction.

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