Doing physical activity outdoors is useful to us and to the environment –

There is a simple way to make a contribution to the conservationenvironment natural and at the same time take personal advantage, improving psychophysical well-being. This method is called by the Anglo-Saxons Outdoor Environmental Enhancement and Conservation Activities (EECA), which can be translated as outdoor conservation and environmental improvement activities. It is about voluntary activities, which the pandemic has slowed down but hopefully only temporarily, such as the collection of abandoned waste, the planting of trees, the maintenance and restoration of paths in the woods, the cleaning of beaches and marine areas, the greening of urban areas or the parks, public gardens, green spaces of hospitals, schools or other public domain structures. All activities that among other things increase physical activity, so much so that they have been renamed with another very indicative term: green gymnastics.

Physical and mental benefits

A group of researchers led by Kerryn Husk, of the Faculty of Health of the Peninsula medical school in Plymouth in Great Britain, dedicated a systematic review to their effectiveness. The review was published in the prestigious Cochrane Library, a reference point for the international medical community. The review shows that those who participate in this kind of activity experience a feeling of benefit at both a psychological and physical level, even if, as always happens for complex interventions, it is difficult to bring out the size of the effect obtained in a statistically significant way. This is a still open field of research that will have to be further evaluated through methodologically more robust study projects, therefore quantitative prospective studies. However, it is a very fertile exploration ground. There is a growing interest towards this kind of research that tends to exploit the potential of using the natural environment as a means of improving people’s health and well-being, say the review authors. Involvement in environmental conservation and improvement activities is considered beneficial to many different population groups, including people with psychic disorders.

Strengthening of sociality

The review shows the positive effect on both the physical and psychological levels. The benefits are not only a consequence of the increase in physical activity, but also of the simple exposure to the natural environment, as well as the potential for increasing sociality. Data from the scientific literature of both biological and psychological extraction indicate that humans have a natural evolutionary connection with the natural world, the authors say. A connection that can benefit personal health and well-being so much that it can be defined as a “biofilia”, Capable in itself of reducing the psychological sense of fatigue and stress. And indeed, some studies suggest the possibility that the same type of physical activity, carried out outdoors, gives greater benefits than that carried out indoors, precisely because of those intrinsic indirect benefits deriving from pure and simple being immersed in the natural environment.


June 6, 2021 (change June 6, 2021 | 16:34)



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