Monday, May 10, 2010

At Last, Scientific Proof that Outdoor Exercise is Good for You

At last, scientific proof that outdoor exercise is good for you.  Not just exercise--duh--but OUTDOOR exercise.

I came to this article by a circuitous route. All I have to say--just as President Theodore Roosevelt surely did 100+ years ago--is "Bully for the Internet!"

I was originally surfing the political blog, Andrew Sullivan's The Daily Dish, where I was intrigued by this post, entitled Get off That Treadmill. Then I clicked over to the referenced BBC news story for 1 May 2010, and from there with some effort was able to drill down to the original article in the American Chemical Society's bi-weekly journal, Environment Science and Technology, 25 March 2010.

That article is entitled What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis.

Here are the money quotes from the BBC article:

Just five minutes of exercise in a "green space" such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim.

There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being.

In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem.

The study in the Environmental Science and Technology journal suggested the strongest impact was on young people.

The research looked at many different outdoor activities including walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming in locations such as a park, garden or nature trail.

The biggest effect was seen within just five minutes.

With longer periods of time exercising in a green environment, the positive effects were clearly apparent but were of a smaller magnitude, the study found.

Looking at men and women of different ages, the researchers found the health changes - physical and mental - were particularly strong in the young and the mentally-ill.

A bigger effect was seen with exercise in an area that also contained water - such as a lake or river.

Comments: ultrarunning is NOT mentioned, but presumably it'd fall into the category of "exercise."  The young and the mentally ill benefit most from exercise. Since I'm not young, and I would say that I benefit from exercise, then I guess by default I must be mentally ill.

Snark aside, we who run in the woods already know that this is true, but it's great to see it documented in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.  Also I loved the point that exercising near water is very effective.  We ultrarunners, of course, already knew that.

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