Date of Graduation

Summer 2022


Master of Science in Kinesiology



Committee Chair

Rebecca Woodard


Many people in the United States suffer from poor mental health which can lead to suicide, self-harm, or negative effects on job performance and relationships. Not everyone can afford traditional therapy nor feels comfortable with it. With a greater emphasis placed on taking care of one’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, there should also be a greater emphasis placed on finding alternative types of therapy that can be matched to individuals based on their personalities and preferences. One such alternative is outdoor exercise. This review was conducted to examine whether exercising or performing physical activity outdoors results in greater mental health benefits than exercising or performing physical activity indoors. EBSCO host and internet website searches were used to find relevant journal articles, as well as the reference lists of systematic reviews/meta-analyses related to the topic. Both randomized and nonrandomized trials were included. Eligible studies compared the psychological benefits of exercising outdoors with those of exercising indoors. Eligible studies also included participants of at least 15 years of age. All included journal articles were published between January 2005 and May 2022. Thirteen studies consisting of a total of 6,522 participants were chosen for inclusion. Eight of these studies reported that exercising outdoors resulted in greater mental health benefits than exercising indoors. Performing physical activity outdoors may be an alternative option for those suffering from mental illness or looking to maintain good mental health.


green exercise, physical activity, indoor, outdoor, mental health, depression, anxiety

Subject Categories

Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Exercise Physiology | Exercise Science | Movement and Mind-Body Therapies | Other Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychology of Movement | Recreational Therapy


© Greta M. Rueschmann

Open Access