Mental Vitality: Assessing the Impact of a Walk in the Woods

Prof Doc Thesis

Bowen, MF (2016). Mental Vitality: Assessing the Impact of a Walk in the Woods. Prof Doc Thesis London South Bank University Law and Social Sciences: Social Sciences
AuthorsBowen, MF
TypeProf Doc Thesis

As pressures mount in the world, they take a toll upon our mental and physical
capacities. A foundational principle of ecopsychology is that connection with nature
positively impacts our mental and psychological health and well-being. While much
research has focused on children and adults, no research into the influence of nature
specifically targeting 16-18 year olds has been conducted. Additionally, this doctoral
dissertation addressed the calls from literature and the gaps in the knowledge base
regarding employing just one independent variable and one dependent variable in
ecopsychology nature walk research. Existing commentaries are critical of many
extant research projects which have sought to measure too many outcomes (in their
opinion) in one study. Mixed methods research was justified and employed based
upon the researcher’s philosophy and the goals of the research project. This
investigation examined the effect of nature walks on a population of 16-18 year olds -
- students at an international school, or Third Culture Kids (TCKs), defined as a child
living outside of their parents’ native culture, a further novel innovation in this area of
research. This study measured one aspect of mental vitality, that of mental acuity.
Using the d2 Test of Attention as a quantitative measure to evaluate the impact of
regular nature walks and personal reflection journals as a qualitative measure, this
study found a significant improvement in participants’ mental acuity in both the
quantitative and qualitative results after a regular, twice weekly, 40 to 60 minute
duration nature walk intervention. Implementation of nature walks into schools is
highly recommended to benefit students’ psychological health and well-being.
Recommendations for additional research are also suggested.

PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
Print01 Apr 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited29 Jan 2018
Publisher's version
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