A new study suggests exercising outdoors will deliver more stress relief than working out indoors.
Researchers at the University of Roehampton in the U.K. found that all forms of exercise improved mood, anxiety and stress, but outdoor sports, including football, running or mountain biking, made people feel more relaxed than the indoor activities — aerobics, aqua aerobics, basketball, fencing, swimming or volleyball.
The studies found the indoor groups’ stress levels were reported, on a 1-to-5 scale at 2.42 prior to exercise, falling 8% to 2.23 afterward.
By contrast, the outdoor groups’ stress fell from 2.35 out of five to 2.05, a 13% decrease.
The findings were published in the journal Mental Health and Prevention, where researchers concluded the simple fact that the outdoor activities took place in green spaces and ‘calm environment’ could have delivered the calming effect.
“This could nonetheless suggest that green exercise, and running outdoors in particular, has stronger positive effects on acute mood and perceived stress levels than non-green types of exercise,” the Roehampton researchers wrote.
Running was found to be the most effective, with participants stating their bad mood and restlessness lowered by 27%, anxiety by 16% and stress by 14%.