Affective landscapes of running project asks why do people feel like running on trails, and what do people get from running in green environments? Why and how do they select certain trails and places to run instead of others? How do they experience the environment while they run? A critical reader might ask in turn: Why bother? What good does it make to address these questions? I would then reply that providing answers to these questions is critical for understanding the associations between physical activity, green environments and wellbeing in everyday life.
There is already a lot of research and convincing evidence that proximity to and presence in green spaces promotes wellbeing and physical health. Exposure to green environments has been shown to produce physiological effects (reduced heart rate and blood pressure) and improve emotional wellbeing (e.g. increased happiness and reduced stress). Now add to that the fact that physical activity is good for mental and physical health. I think most of us know this by heart and a great amount of research also tells the same story. So basically it seems that we have here two things that are good for us: nature or green environments and physical activity. To make the most of these things it should be a clever idea to join them, would not it?
Actually there is also growing evidence suggesting that physical activity in green environments, or what has been coined green exercise, has more benefits than physical activity in other environments. However, it is not yet clear which specific aspects of green exercise promotes health and wellbeing. Some evidence suggest that the type of green space and its elements and features is significant.
This previous research provides a solid ground for studying running in green environments. While taking in many of its insights, Affective landscapes of running takes a different route to complement, question and challenge the previous research on the topic. Thus far, studies have mostly been based on surveys or physiological measurements that consider the qualities of places and the elements of environments as somewhat static and pre-categorised. The problem here is that research based on measurements, statistical methods and experimental settings cannot grasp well the dynamics and specifics of the everyday experiences of green exercise. In this research project, the point is to identify and scrutinize affective landscapes, that is, why and how people run in particular green environments and what impacts these environments have for their running and everyday life.