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Enriching green exercise research

Bamberg, Jarkko, Hitchings, Russell, Latham, Alan
Landscape and urban planning 2018 v.178 pp. 270-275
exercise, landscaping, vegetation
There is a growing body of research that, under the banner of ‘green exercise’, considers the additional physical and psychological benefits that may be accrued by those who exercise in ‘natural’ environments. This essay considers the implications of how this research has been conducted to date and argues that it may be usefully enriched by a fuller examination of how exercise and environment come together in less controlled conditions. After outlining some ideas and approaches commonly found in this field, we contend that there are two problems here: firstly, the focus on ‘green’ – in so far as this defines the experience in certain visual terms – and, secondly, the focus on ‘exercise’ – in so far as this downplays diversity in physical experiences. In response, we argue that studies centred on how various environments are inhabited by various groups of exerciser could provide fresh ideas about how best to promote the benefits of green exercise. We make this argument because the implied vision of positive landscape design currently associated with this field is typified by flat surfaces that allow exercisers to visually consume vegetation without other stimulation. With reference to qualitative work on recreational running, we contend that this is not always the way to go.