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Benefits of Green Exercise

Exercising in nature!

One positive to come out of the global pandemic is that it got us all walking outside for one hour a day. For some of us that might have meant walking through the streets of Hove, in a local park, along Brighton’s promenades and seafront, or if you were super lucky, in the stunning Sussex countryside. That daily walk helped most of us not just physically, but also mentally. There is something very calming about being on the south downs, looking out at the rolling hills, or wandering along the beach looking out to sea.

Green exercise isn’t limited to literally exercising around the green trees and plants, but more generally to physical activity in the presence of nature. Making it accessible to those who for example live by the sea, in the countryside, by a river, or even by a park in the city.

Sunlight through woodland trees.

So why am I rambling on about green exercise? I want to share the benefits! Obviously, we love our studio, and training inside Portside PT is obviously the best exercise experience ever! But have you ever wondered why we chose to have a studio with a glorious view of the sea? Or why Timmo has almost 70 plants in the studio? (yes I think it’s around 70!!!!)

Regularly just being in the presence of nature is associated with a whole host of health benefits: reduced cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for chronic stress; reduced blood pressure; lower cholesterol; reduced all-cause mortality and an increased likelihood of self-reporting good health. It’s obviously important to consider that those who are regularly in the presence of nature are less likely to live in more densely populated inner-city areas, where overall health is lower due to a whole host of factors. But luckily here in Brighton and Hove, we have so much countryside and seaside so closeby!

Psychologically, exercising in nature is associated with increased enjoyment and satisfaction compared with exercising indoors, this enjoyment leads to better adherence, meaning you’re more likely to carry on exercising. When walking outdoors, you’re more likely to choose a faster speed than when walking indoors (so more likely to work a little harder!). On top of this, your rate of perceived exertion or RPE, is actually lower when exercising outdoors, so you are likely to perceive that extra hard work as less intense when you’re in nature. Green exercise is also well known for improving mental health markers, like mood, self-esteem, anxiety and overall well-being. So when you’re feeling a little grumpy, a little stressed, or just a bit down on yourself, a great way to potentially pick yourself up is by going out to take a little walk in nature. Green spaces have great restorative power!

Green exercise is an awesome way to up your physical activity, it has so many added benefits. So why not add a long walk over the south downs into your routine? Or a walk down to the beach and a swim in the sea? Or perhaps some yoga in one of Brighton & Hove's lush green spaces? The possibilities are endless. If you are already training with us, ask your trainer to help you come up with some ways to add in green exercise (or alternatively, we’re always up for taking the session outside next to the water!). If you aren’t training with us, get in touch and you can come and train in amongst our massive plant collection and wonderful waterside location!


Coventry, P. A., Brown, J. E., Pervin, J., Brabyn, S., Pateman, R., Breedvelt, J., … White, P. L. (2021). Nature-based outdoor activities for mental and physical health: Systematic review and meta-analysis. SSM - Population Health, 16, 100934.

Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research, 166, 628–637.

Gladwell, V.F., Brown, D.K., Wood, C. et al. The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all. Extrem Physiol Med 2, 3 (2013).

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