Perceived environmental restorativeness and affective responses to indoor vs. outdoor exercise

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Amanda L. Williams (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Diane Gill

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of environmental setting (indoor vs. outdoor) on affect and attentional focus during exercise. In this counterbalanced, repeated measures design, 26 women (ages 18-26) exercised at a moderate intensity (60-70% of MHR) for 30 minutes in two settings: indoor track and outdoor path. Participants filled out dimensional measures of affect pre- and post-exercise: Activation Deactivation Adjective Check List, Feeling Scale (FS), and Felt Arousal Scale (FAS). FS, FAS, and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were assessed every 10 minutes during exercise. Post-exercise, participants also filled out the Attentional Focus Questionnaire, Perceived Restorativeness Scale (PRS), and Evaluation of Exercise Setting. Mixed analyses of variance with order as a between-subjects factor and time and setting as within-subjects factors indicated that exercise, regardless of setting, resulted in significant reductions in tiredness, F(1, 24) = 11.58, p = .002, and significant increases in affective valence, F(1.9, 46.1) = 7.1, p = .002, arousal, F(2.29, 55.02) = 21.65, p < .001, and energy F(1, 24) = 15.79, p = .001 over time. There was a nonsignificant trend in which FS scores were higher in the outdoor setting, F(1, 24) = 3.17, p = .088. Use of associative and dissociative attention was similar across settings, but exercisers used association more during their first session than their second session, especially if they were indoors for their first session, F(1, 24) = 13.90, p = .001. Participants reported higher RPE, F(1, 24) = 17.56, p < .001, but less distressing thoughts F(1, 24) = 87.06, p < .001, during outdoor exercise. Most (85%) participants preferred the outdoor setting and rated it as significantly more restorative on the PRS, F(1, 24) = 9.68, p = .005. Also, participants found the outdoor setting significantly (p < .001) more enjoyable, refreshing, and pleasant. Participants reported enjoying the fresh air, natural stimuli, and the greater variability in scenery and terrain. Exploratory analyses indicated that less active participants (< 35 METS/wk) reported more positive affective valence during exercise in the outdoor setting than in the indoor setting, F(1, 22) = 7.06, p = .014. These findings suggest that being in an outdoor environment can make exercise more enjoyable, particularly for less active individuals. Future research might examine the environment's impact on longer-term adherence and mood, and ways to manipulate exercise settings to promote enjoyment and positive affect.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2011
Exercise, Environmental setting (indoor vs. outdoor), Affect
Exercise $x Psychological aspects
Outdoor recreation $x Psychological aspects

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