Let’s go out!

Did you know that outdoors exercise, in direct contact with nature, could be more beneficial than the same exercise performed indoors?

In a note spread by AdnKronos Tim Ballard, vice-president of the National Association of General Practitioners of General Medicine in the U.K., states that “there is an incontrovertible evidence about benefits coming from activity performed in the open air: less tension, stress and depression; low blood pressure; better response of the immune system; low obesity level – just to mention some of them”.

For this reason, after New Zealand and Australia, also the United Kingdom is thinking of adopting the so-called “green prescriptions”, or indications from the doctor about how much and what kind of activity must be performed strictly in a parkland.

But what are the potential benefits coming from physical activity performed in the open air, proved with documents?

Let’s see some of them:

– on children, interaction with nature stimulates the development of the learning and motor activity areas;

– on adults, the view of natural landscape resulted to be related to a better involuntary control of cardiac activity;

– walking in the green has shown a positive effect on self-esteem, greater than the one resulted from physical activity performed indoors;

– walking in tilled land is related to a lower perception of stress, compared to performing the same activity in an urban area;

– green physical activity resulted to be related to a reduction in the states of anxiety and to an increase in the social connection;

– running in public parks, instead of inside buildings, gives higher psycho-emotional benefits in terms of feeling of calm and revitalization.

Are they just immediate or long lasting benefits?

This is the question that some researchers asked themselves in a study published this year in March. In this study, they considered the most easily influenced parameter, in a positive sense, by the green exercise and they also measured how this parameter – the heart rate variability – could change during the hours following the exercise.

The participants involved in the study walked a two km. route in nature at lunchtime; then during night sleep their heart rate variability was measured since it is directly connected to autonomic functionality of the heart.

The results? Compared to the ones who performed the same kind of activity in a not “green” environment, for those who walked in nature an improvement of the heart rate variability has been recorded both just after the exercise and also during the hours following the exercise – as noticed during the night recording of the parameter.

In short, also this new evidence suggests that green physical activity could improve our physiological health with both immediate and long lasting effects.