A certain frog puppet is fond of singing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Maybe not, but research suggests going green is the way to go when you’re exercising. According to researchers at the University of Exeter in England, viewing the color green while working out enhances endurance and mood.
Scientists have known for some time that working out in nature appears to enhance the effects of the workout, resulting in feelings of calm and better mood within just minutes. The Exeter scientists wondered if nature itself is to thank, or if there’s something inherently calming about the color green itself.
They recruited a small sample of healthy young men, who pedaled stationary bikes while viewing a video that simulated a real ride through the countryside. At times, the video displayed true, natural colors (primarily green). At other times, filters switched the landscape to black and white. A third filter rendered the scene red. Riders reported less fatigue when the visual landscape was green, compared to red, or black and white. Colors such as blue and green tend to evoke a sense of calm, while colors like red and yellow tend to be more stimulating. In fact, the color red evoked feelings of anger among the men.
Previous studies have shown that viewing nature scenes, versus urban manmade landscapes, results in faster, better recovery from mental stress. Of course, any exercise, no matter where you do it, is good for you. Regardless of your surroundings while exercising, you’ll feel better afterwards, and even feel more energetic than if you had remained on the couch. But when you’re able, being out in nature can provide an additional boost, helping you feel more optimistic and calm.
Akers A, Barton J, et al. Visual color perception in green exercise: positive effects on mood and perceived exertion. Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Aug 21;46(16):8661-6. doi: 10.1021/es301685g. Epub 2012 Aug 10.
Brown DK1, Barton JL, Gladwell VF. Viewing nature scenes positively affects recovery of autonomic function following acute-mental stress. Environ Sci Technol. 2013 Jun 4;47(11):5562-9. doi: 10.1021/es305019p. Epub 2013 May 16.