A Scoping Review of the Health Benefits of Nature-Based Physical Activity


green exercise
mental health
nature-based components
nature-based initiatives
nature-based physical activity
outdoor physical activity


The health benefits of physical activity and spending time in nature are well established. However, children and adults in the United States are not participating in sufficient levels of physical activity and are not spending much time outdoors. Recently, increased access to nature for the health and wellness of all populations has seen growing public health attention, though a specific focus on nature-based physical activity has been limited. The purpose of this scoping review is to operationalize the health benefits of nature-based physical activity to provide guidance to program administrators, advocates, and researchers for nature-based physical activity to facilitate collaborations. Peer-reviewed literature was searched in PubMed, Medline, Web of Science, and Google Scholar as well as in published reviews of the literature. The literature was divided into three categories of: 1) amount and location of nature-based components and physical activity; 2) added health benefits of exposure to nature-based components and physical activity; and 3) nature-based components and physical activity effect on non-white, marginalized, and vulnerable populations. This review supports and encourages multiple strategies to increase nature-based physical activity as this provides even greater benefit to health and wellness than exposure to nature or physical activity alone. Although many of the physical and mental health benefits of nature and physical activity are well established, additional research is needed to better understand the relationship between exposure to nature and nature-based physical activity. However, the existing information justifies the promotion of nature-based physical activities in public health initiatives.



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