Physical activity in natural environments: Importance of environmental quality, landscape type and promotional materials.
Elliott, Lewis Roland
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Physical inactivity and disconnection from natural environments threatens human health. However, research has demonstrated that natural environments potentially support health-enhancing physical activity which could confer greater physical and mental health benefits than physical activity in other types of environment. This thesis approached the study of physical activity in natural environments through three related pieces of research. Firstly, an experimental study was carried out to explore how the presence of litter in beach environments affected psychophysiological responses to exercise. Responses to exercise did not differ in littered and clean conditions but there was evidence that order effects influenced findings. Visual attention to the two scenes differed, but did not mediate differences in psychophysiological responses. Secondly, analysis of a national dataset was undertaken to explore the form and quantity of physical activity conducted within natural environments in England. A series of linear regressions revealed that higher-intensity physical activities occurred in countryside environments, but more total energy expenditure occurred in coastal environments. Thirdly, a quantitative content analysis of brochures which promote recreational walking in natural environments was conducted which investigated their use of persuasive behavioural messages. These brochures omitted behavioural techniques which may be effective at motivating inactive individuals to walk. Extending this, an online survey tested whether improving brochure content heightened intentions to walk in natural environments. By designing content based on the theory of planned behaviour, the intentions of inactive individuals to undertake walking in natural environments were increased. The findings from this thesis demonstrate that the protection of natural environments is vital for preserving and promoting active recreation and could contribute to population-level increases in physical activity with theory-based promotion in the future.
Economic and Social Research Council
White, Mathew P
Taylor, Adrian H
PhD in Health and Wellbeing