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Health Place. 2011 Jan;17(1):103-13. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2010.09.003. Epub 2010 Nov 10.

The restorative benefits of walking in urban and rural settings in adults with good and poor mental health.

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1
OPENspace, Edinburgh College of Art, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9DF, UK. j.roe@eca.ac.uk

Abstract

People differ in their potential for psychological restoration but there is little evidence on the role of varying mental health state or settings in the process. This paper reports two quasi-experiments which compare the restorative benefits of walking in urban and rural settings in two groups of adults with good and poor mental health. Two aspects of restoration are examined, firstly mood, the other using personal project techniques (Little, 1983) to capture an under-explored aspect of cognitive restoration through reflection on everyday life tasks. Results are consistent with a restorative effect of landscape: the rural walk was advantageous to affective and cognitive restoration in both health groups when compared to an urban walk. However, beneficial change took place to a greater extent in the poor health group. Differential outcomes between health groups were found in the urban setting, which was most advantageous to restoration in the poor mental health group. This study extends restorative environments research by showing that the amount of change and context for restoration can differ amongst adults with variable mental health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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