Outdoor exercise found to have the most benefits

Outdoor exercise found to be the most beneficial - Newsreel
US research has found that exercising outdoors provides the most health benefits. | Photo: Grady Reese (iStock)

Exercising outdoors has been found to be more beneficial than indoor activity.

This has prompted calls for better and easier access to parks and natural settingss to encourage healthy behaviour.

Researchers at the Texas A&M University reviewed a series of studies that mapped the most effective settings for physical activity.

The study, published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, pointed to activity in parks and other natural settings being more beneficial than exercising indoors.

This was based on the health outcomes in a period of less than a year.

Texas A&M Director of the Center for Health and Nature Jay Maddock said the research pointed to the importance of making outdoor areas attractive and accessible for people.

He said people tended to be attracted by physical features such as playgrounds, lighting and clear signage, as well natural features such as tree canopy and bodies of water that were well maintained.

“Activities such as classes and festivals also contribute to their popularity, as do a welcoming environment, a perception of safety, and visitors’ strong feeling of connectedness to nature and belief that spending time in these spaces is important,” Professor Maddock said.

“Parks and trails are particularly important due to their accessibility and widespread availability, but access varies significantly by geography, and rural areas often have less access to natural spaces because they have more privately held land.

“For example, nearly 98 percent of Illinois residents live within half a mile of a park, compared to only 29 percent in Mississippi.”

The study said health practitioners could potentially enhance health outcomes by “prescribing” nature contact to patients.

The full report is on the Texas A&M website.