|Year : 2015 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 23-27
The effect of green walking on psychological wellbeing of middle-aged women in women park
Elmi Karbordi University, Tehran, Iran
|Date of Web Publication||19-Dec-2014|
Ph.D sport psychology student of Immam Reza university, and Elmi Karbordi University, Tehran
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: The benefits of walking in natural environments for well-being are increasingly understood. However, less well known are the impacts different types of natural environments have on psychological well-being. Aim: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of green walking on psychological wellbeing of middle-aged women in women park. Methods: The statistical population is 40 women of 48-59 years old, which has gone to one of the health houses of the second district of Tehran for group consultation. Among them, 30 women who had the lowest psychological wellbeing score was chosen as the original samples and were placed randomly into two groups of experimental (15) and control (15). The intervention program was the eighth session of walking in women park of Tehran. Psychological wellbeing questionnaire was implemented in both control and experimental groups, before the first session and after the last session of the hike. Results: The results of ANCOVA test analysis showed a significant difference between psychological wellbeing of experimental group and control group. Also, the study demonstrated that green walking program had positive effects on increasing the personal growth, positive relations with others, self-acceptance, and purpose in life, but it has no meaningful effect on Environmental mastery. Conclusions: Overall, the present results indicate that a green walking in the parks and green spaces because of good weather conditions, less noise and enhance social relationships can be reduces mental stress, and the middle-aged women feel mirthfulness, happiness and well-being.
Keywords: Green walking, middle-aged women, psychological wellbeing
|How to cite this article:|
Mousavi A. The effect of green walking on psychological wellbeing of middle-aged women in women park. Int J Educ Psychol Res 2015;1:23-7
| Introduction|| |
One of the most important periods of women life is midlife middle age is the transition from youth to old age and is a developmental stage, in which is the largest segment of adult life.  Mid-Life, is associated with maximum performance of social-psychological and key changes such as biological changes, changes in health status, loss of family members or friends, changing attitudes, leave of children and the transitions such as menopause. On the whole, this period is usually a combination of complex emotions and different patterns of response to these changes is seen in these years that can play important roles in women psychological well-being. 
One of the most influential models within the eudemonism tradition is the model on psychological well-being developed by Ryff and Singer.  She emphasized the importance of theoretical grounding and based her model on preceding perspectives on optimal human growth and functioning. In this model on psychological well-being, she integrated and operationalized the points of convergence in the literature by developmental psychologists (e.g. Erikson, Jung) humanistic psychologists (e.g. Maslow and Rogers), personality psychologists (e.g. Allport), and mental health psychologists (e.g. Jahoda, and Frankl).  This resulted in six dimensions of psychological well-being: (1) Self-acceptance; (2) environmental mastery; (3) positive relations with others; (4) personal growth; (5) autonomy; and (6) purpose in life. These dimensions were not strongly related to dimensions of emotional well-being such as life satisfaction, indicating that psychological well-being reflects an additional component of well-being. 
Psychological well-being, broadly defined as happiness, life satisfaction, and self-growth, represents one of the most important aspects of efficient psychological functioning. Wellbeing is fundamental for health. The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Walking has been shown to be a cost-effective and accessible form of physical exercise that can reduce symptoms of depression. 
The social and physical environment can influence whether a person takes up walking.  People are more likely to walk in the company of another person; this is particularly relevant for women.  Individuals are more likely to walk in physical environments that are esthetically beautiful and maintained, accessible,  contain footpaths  and that are perceived as safe.  There is a positive association between natural environments and physical activity;  natural environments are also more likely to be used for physical activity than recreation centers or sports facilities. 
Group walking outdoors is an integration of both the social and physical environment correlates of walking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends walking in a group to increase walking behavior, as the social environment of the walking group may augment adherence to walking.  Research has shown that people both prefer and enjoy walking with others outdoors, more than walking outdoors alone. Less well researched, however, are the well-being effects from group walks in natural environments. 
Green walking (group walks in natural environments) can have an effect on well-being greater than the act of walking or the social environment. A group walk in the natural environment has been shown to significantly improve emotions and self-esteem when compared to a group walk indoors. Self-esteem was significantly greater when walking in a group in the natural environment compared to a sedentary social group.  Sugiyama et al. found the "greenness" of the environment was strongly associated with mental health, over and above the effects of walking and social coherence. The social and environmental context together may moderate the effect of emotional well-being. 
In a research on understanding the sports belief of Canadian women, it was found that women who understand exercise as an enjoyable activity, their happiness and balance level will increase.  Although there is an emerging body of literature on the benefits of physical activity for mental health, few published studies have documented the specific mental health outcomes from walking. Research findings currently indicate that walking can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, resulting in improvements in individual quality of life and reductions in the medical costs associated with treating these disorders, and improve cognitive performance (such as thinking, understanding and remembering). 
Although, many studies have shown that sport and physical activities are effective in improving health and well-being of the individuals, few studies have focused on the green walking which may be one of the most effective and the most economical approaches in increasing the women s' efficiency. Also about the limitation of women in having special park, Implementation of the research in such places would seem to be useful. So far, about green walking in a special park for women that can run their own convenient cover, has not been done.
This research is looking for the fact that the women in their own green space has more sense of security and greater motivation for exercising it. The purpose of this paper is to show how green walking, and especially women park, plays a critical role in psychological well-being.
The aim of the present study is the effect of green walking in women park of Tehran on psychological wellbeing of middle-aged women.
| Methods|| |
The present study was a quasi-experimental with pretest and posttest analysis that contains experimental and control groups. The statistical population is 40 women of 48-59 years old, which has gone to one of the health houses of the second district of Tehran for group consultation. Among them, 30 women who had the lowest psychological wellbeing score was chosen as the original samples and were placed randomly into two groups of (15) and control (15). The intervention program was the eighth session of walking in women park of Tehran. Each session was included 1 h going, 1 h for relaxing and eating a simple meal and an hour for coming back. This exercise was done with moderate-intensity twice a week for a month under the supervision of the sport and health experts of Tehran municipal; however, the control group did not receive the intervention. It must be mentioned that after the research company in terms of green walking for members of the control group also will be provided psychological wellbeing questionnaire was implemented in both control and experimental groups, before the first session and after the last session of the hike.
Psychological wellbeing questionnaire
The psychological wellbeing questionnaire used in the current study was based on the 54-item that constructed by Ryff (1989) and was revised in 2002. The six dimensions of Ryff s' (1989) psychological well-being scale include: (1) Self-acceptance; (2) environmental mastery; (3) positive relations with others; (4) personal growth; (5) autonomy; and (6) purpose in life. The flowing psychometric properties were described for the PWQ: Test-retest reliability was established as 0/76 for a total scale and for subscales was between 0/73 and 0/97. Cronbach alpha coefficient was found to be 0/92. In this study, Cronbach alpha coefficient was 0/89. 
| Results|| |
Descriptive statistics methods and covariance analyze were used for group differences. The average age of the experimental and control groups had been respectively 53.5 and 55.5.
Comparison of pretest and posttest scores of experimental and control groups in [Table 1] shows that the most of variables in the experimental group have increased noticeably.
The analysis of the research results in [Table 2] shows that green walking has a meaningful effect on the psychological well-being of the women. Also, the green walking, has meaningful effect on psychological well-being micro scales, such as personal growth, autonomy, positive relations with others, self-acceptance, and purpose in life, but it has no meaningful effect on Environmental mastery.
|Table 2: Results of covariance analyses of the psychological well-being scales|
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| Discussion|| |
This study was done for investigating the effects of green walking in women park on psychological wellbeing of middle-aged women. The results show that the group walking in women park increases the psychological wellbeing of middle-aged women such as personal growth, autonomy, positive relations with others, self-acceptance, and purpose in life, but it has no meaningful effect on Environmental mastery. Probably due to the low period of the walking sessions, a feeling of mastery of the environment is not increased in the experimental group.
The results of this study is fully compatible with the results of these studies: Michael and Joan, Besenski, , Marselle et al. ,, Michael and Joan, maintain that the environment and conditions of the exercise are effective in case of well-being.  Besenski, showed that the activity levels has no relation with well-being and the achieved experience during the activity, essentially leads to this issue. He also concluded that the leisure time activities are in relation with psychological well-being. 
Also, the results for green walking are consistent with previous studies in which levels of mental and emotional well-being were greater in waterside environments. Our findings for perceived stress and negative affect support the psycho-physiological stress reduction framework, which posits that nature decreases negative emotion and stress and increases positive emotion. ,
The individuals who have had good and pleasing experiences throughout the activity, are in higher levels of well-being (Besenski), and in the present study the green walking may have created the same pleasing experience in women, and as Deborah says, physical activity causes the creative experiences and activities like green walking in a green space, makes individuals to express their emotions and feelings in a nonlinguistic way. 
Although the mechanism of this improvement after participating in a walking program is not clearly defined, but two main theories provide a framework for understanding how natural environments enhance well-being. The first, attention restoration theory, posits natural environments contain stimuli that allow for the restoration from mental fatigue, which is the depletion of one's ability to direct attention. , The stimuli in natural environments are hypothesized to effortlessly attract one's involuntary attention, allowing for the restoration of one's directed attention.  The second theory is the psycho-physiological stress reduction framework which posits that nature initiates innate emotional, physiological, cognitive and behavioral responses.  According to the theory, the restorative benefits of nature are reduced negative affect and physiological arousal, and enhanced positive affect and attention.  Walking in natural environments has been found to provide additional benefits to emotional well-being compared to walking indoors or in an urban environment. 
| Conclusion|| |
So green walking program, as an enjoyable activity, especially at women park (a special park with green spaces in Tehran that only women can go there) by observing the attractive natural environment, can reduce the stress level and can result in feelings of happiness.
With an organized long-term program like green walking, we can have the maximum profit in the country's socio-economic development and by improving the level of health and well-being and by helping to form the middle-aged women characteristics, we can step toward the society's health improvement and this issue is exactly in the direction of development and is the ultimate goal of any government women park is a safety place for women, because they can wear sport clothes without scarf. It seems that developing the preventive programs through group exercise activities such as group hiking can be useful as an enjoyable activity and side intervention in improving the emotional and temperamental disorders of women. The type of the natural environment for a group walk could have an effect on well-being, above and beyond the effects of physical activity. "Green prescriptions" for group walks in green environments may reduce perceived stress and negative affect of patients. The benefits of outdoor group walks suggest the importance of such programs for improving psychological and emotional well-being and increasing physical health through physical activity. Also, It is necessary to doing another research with follow up to check the stability of the results.
| Acknowledgments|| |
The authors would like to thank Health Center of Tehran municipality for the support of this study and also the midwives for their valuable cooperation in the data collection process.
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[Table 1], [Table 2]