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Have you tried going for a walk? The science behind Green exercise

 In this blog

  • -Have you tried going for a walk? The science behind Green exercise
  • -Light exercise - chores, sport and fitness two birds one stone?
  • -Cam's Green Exercise Pick

Have you tried going for a walk? The science behind Green exercise

A few years ago, when I was really unmotivated and depressed. I reached out to a friend for support and got a reply everyone hates "Have you tried going for a walk?". I replied, "No" I said, "I'm trying to feel better, reminding myself how unfit I am probably won't do that".

Wouldn't it be nice though? If it were that easy? Just get up, go for a walk and feel better? Turns out there is something to it.

Recent research investigated the results of 10 different studies examining the benefits of exercise on mood and self-esteem. The researchers were particularly interested in how the effects of exercise varied between different environments (urban vs nature), gender and mental health variance. The results will surprise you!

Here are the most important/interesting results

  • 1.) The optimal amount of time spent exercising for maximum improvement in self-esteem and mood is just FIVE MINUTES!!
  • 2.)Light intensity exercise (such as walking) improved self-esteem and mood more than both moderate and high intensity exercise.
  • 3.)The participants with worse mental health showed an even greater improvements in self-esteem and mood than those with good mental health (although there were significant improvements for both groups)
  • 4.)Exercise completed near natural bodies of water and in nature further increased improvements

Light exercise - chores, sport and fitness, two birds, one stone?

Light exercise differs between individuals depending on age and level on fitness. There are more ways to get 'light exercise' than just going for a walk. Some of them can even tick things off your to do list (if you're organised enough to have one... not me!).


So, what if chores aren't your thing and you hate structured exercise like the lifting weights, going for walks or even worse, Crossfit. There are a bunch of activities you can do which are really fun and incidentally, increase your fitness and mental health.

  • Dance (There are so many different styles for different energy levels)
  • Sports (Again, different sports for different energy and fitness levels)
  • Lawn bowls, ten pin bowling, golf, Frisbee golf, footy
  • Gymnastics (There are a number of gymnastics classed in Adelaide that take people of all ages, it's a fun way to get fit and learn some skills)
  • Visit a national park or the botanical garden (This is especially fun in spring and autumn, the weather is nice and everything is flowering or changing colours)

  •   It doesn't really matter what kind of exercise you choose to do. Whether it is purposeful or incidental, competitive or recreational, science says you will see a benefit. Particularly if that exercise is in nature and near water! Cam's Green Exercise Pick Here's my pick: Mt. Lofty Botanical Gardens. It's Adelaide's green exercise must do! There's so much to do you could spend an entire day! There are some great light exercise options and if you want a bit more of a challenge you can work your way up the hill to the Valley View (or you can cheat and drive there). Click here for more info: https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/mount-lofty-botanic-garden/trails-tours  
  •  Take a stroll around the lake with a beautiful mountain view of the gardens. This walk is flat and universally designed to be accessible for everyone from the bottom carpark. Bring some food for the ducks and make a few feathery friends! Click here for more info: https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/mount-lofty-botanic-garden/trails-tours/lakeside-trail There are also free guided walks every Thursday. Click here for more info: https://www.botanicgardens.sa.gov.au/visit/mount-lofty-botanic-garden/trails-tours  
  •   It's important to take time for self-care and some of the best self-care is light exercise. There are so many different ways to do light exercise but not everyone has the time or access to transport to spend an extravagant day at Mt. Lofty Botanical Gardens. If you only have 5 minutes, try spending it in the garden or getting into nature. Or, if you have more time take an hour a week to start a new hobby like dance. It may take a while to find what activity works for you but keep at it and you'll reap the rewards! The next time someone tells me to go for a walk I'll try not to get mad and, literally, take steps towards feeling better.                                                                                                                                                                         (References Barton, J., & Pretty, J. (2010). What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health? A multi-study analysis. Environmental science & technology44(10), 3947-3955)                                                                           *Pictured: Mt Lofty Botanical Gardens in Autumn  
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