But in 2003, researchers at the University of Essex formally proposed linking the benefits of adopting physical activity whilst at the same time being directly exposed to nature. This concept was coined ‘green exercise’ and initiated a rigorous scientific research programme which is continuing today.
It is a concept which has also captured the interest of people around the globe as a solution to improve mental wellbeing for all ages.
Thinking green, changing lives
Our Green Exercise Research Team includes specialists in physiology, health and well-being, environmental sustainability, community engagement and behaviour change. They have worked on a wide range of research projects from international-level reviews through to individual project analysis.
We've worked with national charities like Mind, RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts through to Care Farming UK and the Wilderness Foundation. Our research has a real impact. For example, our work was key to a successful Big Lottery bid by Mind which led to Ecominds, a £7.5 million, five-year programme supporting 130 environmental projects which have improved the mental health of participants.
Dr Jo Barton, from the School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, said: “Having had the privilege of engaging with multiple external partners, I have experienced first-hand the remarkable impact participating in nature-based activities has on the health and wellbeing of community groups, especially those vulnerable cohorts who benefit the most.”