Ecology & Environmental Science

Environmental quality and emotional well-being

Participation in outdoor physical activities is believed to provide both physical and mental health benefits. Walking for Health is England’s largest network of health walk schemes, encouraging people across the country to lead a more active lifestyle. The positive effects of these free, short, led health walks on participant well-being are widely acknowledged. Researchers are particularly interested in the way the different environmental and emotional factors involved in these walks interrelate. In collaboration with the James Hutton Institute, the University of Salford and the University of Michigan, we analysed questionnaire data gathered after group walks within the scheme to establish the mediating and moderating effects of environmental quality on the emotional well-being of the respondents.

people enjoying a walkOur analyses were conducted in a mixed model framework, enabling valid inferences about factors of interest that could be obtained from a data set containing multiple observations on each participating individual and could be separated from the effects of physical activity. Against a backdrop of increasing interest in the relationship between nature and health, this study sheds further light on specific factors improving the experience and should prove useful when designing future walks.

Multi-level mediation and moderation analysis of reported effects and perceived environmental factors allow us to assess the interactions and relationships between environmental quality and emotional well-being.

Further details from: Altea Lorenzo-Arribas

Article date 2015

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Ecology & Environmental Science

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