London: The benefits of exercising outdoors may have more to do with the colour green than with just being surrounded by nature, a new study has found.
Researchers suggest working out in the great outdoors may produce more psychological benefits than hitting the gym, adding "green exercise" may boost mood, self-esteem, motivation and enjoyment.
The study is the first to show that the colour green may contribute to the feel-good benefits of outdoor exercise, MyHealthNewsDaily reported.
Researchers at the University of Essex in England had 14 college-age men ride an indoor stationary bicycle for five minutes while watching a video that simulated cycling through a natural environment.
They then switched the filter on the video screen from green to black and white for five minutes, and then to red for the same amount of time. The researchers assessed mood immediately after each five-minute cycling session.
The young men felt less fatigued and experienced fewer mood disturbances when they watched the green version of the video during their ride than when they viewed either the black and white or red versions. They also reported feeling more angry when they viewed the red-filtered nature video.
A previous study by the same researchers suggested that as little as five minutes of outdoor exercise produced significant improvements in mood and self-esteem.
Being exposed to shorter-wavelength colours, such as blue and green, evokes feelings of calmness, whereas red and yellow are more stimulating according to the researchers.
Lush greenery signalled abundant food and nearby water to early human ancestors, the researchers wrote in their study.
As a result, positive feelings toward the colour green may have become hardwired into the human brain over the course of evolution, researchers said.
While the findings are compelling, it`s unclear whether the positive vibes arose from the colour green itself or from the familiarity of the images shown on the video, said Thomas Plante, psychologist at Santa Clara University in California in a statement.