A repeated measures experiment of green exercise to improve self-esteem in UK school children.PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e69176
Authors: Reed K, Wood C, Barton J, Pretty JN, Cohen D, Sandercock GR
Exercising in natural, green environments creates greater improvements in adult's self-esteem than exercise undertaken in urban or indoor settings. No comparable data are available for children. The aim of this study was to determine whether so called 'green exercise' affected changes in self-esteem; enjoyment and perceived exertion in children differently to urban exercise. We assessed cardiorespiratory fitness (20 m shuttle-run) and self-reported physical activity (PAQ-A) in 11 and 12 year olds (n = 75). Each pupil completed two 1.5 mile timed runs, one in an urban and another in a rural environment. Trials were completed one week apart during scheduled physical education lessons allocated using a repeated measures design. Self-esteem was measured before and after each trial, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and enjoyment were assessed after completing each trial. We found a significant main effect (F (1,74), = 12.2, p<0.001), for the increase in self-esteem following exercise but there was no condition by exercise interaction (F (1,74), = 0.13, p = 0.72). There were no significant differences in perceived exertion or enjoyment between conditions. There was a negative correlation (r = -0.26, p = 0.04) between habitual physical activity and RPE during the control condition, which was not evident in the green exercise condition (r = -0.07, p = 0.55). Contrary to previous studies in adults, green exercise did not produce significantly greater increases in self-esteem than the urban exercise condition. Green exercise was enjoyed more equally by children with differing levels of habitual physical activity and has the potential to engage less active children in exercise.