Perceived Well-being and Physical Activity Indoors, in Built Outdoor Settings, and in Nature
1University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Psychology
Background: Experimental studies have systematically shown that the benefits associated with physical activity (PA) are stronger after exercise in natural, compared with built, environments. This research explores whether these results apply beyond experimental settings. Methods: Nationally representative Finnish survey data (n=2072) on outdoor recreation was analysed using structural regression modeling. Weekly frequencies of PA indoors, built outdoor settings, and in nature were regressed on perceived general health and emotional well-being (RAND-36). Covariates included general situation in life and socioeconomic factors. Findings: Frequent PA in nature, but not in built environments, was related to improved emotional well-being (?=0.069, p=0.003). General health was positively connected to PA in natural (?=0.046, p=0.028) and built (?=0.046, p=0.032) outdoor environments. Discussion: The results suggest that PA in natural environments is related to enhanced well-being more specifically than PA in built settings. Green areas could provide a cost-effective, preventative tool for stress- and self-regulation, and thus, promote individual well-being and public health.