Using Green Exercise as a Motivator in Health Management

  • Matthew Fraser

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by UHI)


Green exercise has been defined as physical activity conducted in nature and has been shown to positively influence health. The aim of this thesis was to conduct original research and apply underutilised methodological approaches to enhance knowledge and generalisability around green exercise. This was achieved by investigating how the effects of green exercise and motivations differ across timescales, sub-groups of the population and different forms of green exercise. Healthy and clinical populations were sampled. Individuals living with type 2 diabetes were sampled due to the rising prevalence and the economic cost of treating the disease. Measures of affect, attention, enjoyment, future exercise intentions, perceived exertion and motivation were used throughout the thesis. Each measure was implemented to provide evidence for the use of green exercise to inform public policy and health behaviour change.
The first three chapters introduce the research areas, the methodological approaches and a literature review. In Chapter 4, golf is compared to walking. The findings show that the effects of green exercise were reduced in the golf condition, due to high levels of concentration being used. A weakness of green exercise research has been the duration of interventions. Chapter 5 examined the effects of repeated bouts of green exercise and meteorological conditions. Over the 12-week intervention enjoyment and arousal were found to increase. Temperature and weather had no effect on the outcome variables. A systematic review is conducted in Chapter 6 to identify whether green exercise has been used in other research fields. The review found mixed results and a lack of available studies which used exercise in natural areas to treat type 2 diabetes. These results inform the research presented in Chapter 7 which is a case study on the responses between indoor and green exercise in individuals living with type 2 diabetes. The findings highlight the potential of green exercise to treat psychological parameters. Chapter 8 explored the motivations of green exercisers. The chapter demonstrates motivational differences exist between forms of green exercise, however enjoyment was found to be the primary motivator. A promotional video was developed and the impact of this video is presented in Chapter 9. Participant responses noted increased knowledge and motivations towards green exercise following viewing the video. The findings presented in this thesis are promising, however more research is still required to continue advancing knowledge in the field.
Date of Award15 Mar 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
SponsorsESF studentship
SupervisorSarah-Anne Munoz (Supervisor), Sandra MacRury (Supervisor), Steve Taylor (Supervisor) & Peter Varley (Supervisor)

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