GO GREEn EX: http://www.gogreenex.org Going Outdoors: Gathering Research Evidence on ENvironment and Exercise Sun, 27 May 2018 22:44:33 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.1.1 108734356 BLUEWAYS TO WALK N’TALK: UNDERSTANDING HUMAN-NATURE INTERACTIONS http://www.gogreenex.org/blueways-walk-ntalk-understanding-human-nature-interactions/ Sun, 27 May 2018 22:44:33 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=346 On Friday May 25th at the Landscape Alliance Ireland Conference held in Killaloe we provided a Walk n’Talk experience at

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Niamh Briggs during filming on the Lough Derg BlueWay

On Friday May 25th at the Landscape Alliance Ireland Conference held in Killaloe we provided a Walk n’Talk experience at Clarisford Park, Killaloe, Co. Clare. The exploration of blue and green natural spaces aligned with the event theme ‘Waterscapes’ which was appropriately sponsored by Waterways Ireland  BlueWays.

We explored the concept of nature as a ‘restorative space’ through a video vignette of rugby start and psychology student Niamh Briggs. Growing up on the east side of the east bank of the Colligan river at Abbeyside, Dungarvan, being in touch with water is key to her well-being. Niamh, nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, is a scholarship student at UL, studying on the MSc. in sport, exercise and performance psychology. Niamh is studying how getting in touch with nature, specifically water (termed blue spaces) can positively change our well-being.

Abbeyside, near Dungarvan, where Niamh Briggs grew up in the water.

Whereas ‘Green exercise’ refers to physical activity in natural green space, blue exercise refers to activity in or beside water. A book by global environmental leader Wallace J. Nicholls PhD called Blue Mind provides a fitting backdrop for her case study research which includes interviews with other ‘nature experts.’ Fellow masters students Andree Walkin from UL Sport (former triathlete) and Greig Oliver (Munster Rugby Academy Coach-former Scottish International), and doctoral candidate Chris Bryan (Olympic Trialist in Open Water Swimming) are part of the team of researchers conducting the interviews for a forthcoming scientific publication and a Routledge text entitled Physical Activity in Natural Settings: Green and Blue Exercise

BlueWays and Greenways provide an infrastructure which opens the door to outdoor activity from walking, biking to running, for example. Among the interviewees are Channel swimmer Rosie Foley who is a strong advocate for outdoor activities for all ages and Easkey Britton, a world expert in environmental science who has led projects using surf for therapy. Exercising outdoors confers additional benefits beyond the equivalent exercise in other settings and the stories from our case study participants will help shed light on the topic and illuminate our understanding of human-nature interactions.

Rosie Foley and Tadhg MacIntyre on the banks of the river Shannon at the Lakeside Hotel in Killaloe.

Our next project takes these concepts to the workplace and with the support of a PESS Summer Internship we have Masters student Susan Gritzka from Germany contributing to our research initiatives this fall. We also have additional opportunities for short term research positions so please contact us if you are interested in volunteering or applying for research assistant positions on our forthcoming projects which including an evaluation of the Woodlands for Health project with Emer O’Leary at Sport Ireland.

Thanks to Wen Yang, Masters student at PESS, UL, who is studying sport, exercise and performance psychology for volunteering at the Landscape Alliance Ireland where our work was presented alongside the Clarisford Park project storyline.

UL Student Wen Yang from Beijing

Caroline Madden of W2 Consultants gave a bespoke talk on how the model of a healthy community space and place was planned and came to fruition over a decade. The facility which acts as a natural lab for our projects is a community hub for sporting and social interactions and has a 10 hectare site with a 1k trail, pitches and a pavilion. Integral to the development was the leadership of a small core team, Keith Wood (Chair of Healthy Ireland), local forestry expert Josh Lowry with local volunteers, and the application of a needs based approach taking account for the drivers for change. For example the population growth of the twin-towns of Killaloe Ballina from 1996-2011 was 190% compared to the national average of 26%. The community led partnership approach supported by Clare County Council now has over 4,000 weekly users and is a model that is repeatable and scaleable nationally.  See here for more details.

 

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Research Scholarship Opportunities: Interested in Studying Nature and Well-Being? http://www.gogreenex.org/research-scholarship-opportunities-interested-studying-nature-well/ Sun, 27 May 2018 21:31:41 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=466 Announcing a funded PhD on Nature and Well-Being: A Campus Wide Approach. The Faculty of Education and Health Sciences at the

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The White House on the UL campus

Announcing a funded PhD on Nature and Well-Being: A Campus Wide Approach. The Faculty of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Limerick is sponsoring PhD research scholarships to be associated with the Health Research Institute (HRI). Six scholarships will be available for 2018/19 registration and the scholarships are for new PT or FT entrants and will cover fees and an annual pro rata stipend of €10000. One proposed project will be supervised by psychologist Dr Tadhg MacIntyre, exercise physiologist Dr Giles Warrington (Head of Department, PESS, UL) and Professor Dominic Harmon (University Hospital Limerick). It is fitting that UL with its 133 hectare campus spanning the river Shannon, investigate the benefits and co-benefits of a healthy campus concept.

The river Shannon is the centrepiece of the UL campus which has 11,600 students and 1,300 staff.

UN SDG three (“Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing”) has specific targets to reduce NCD’s through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being. UL’s Healthy Campus Initiative is an opportune platform for an evidence-based approach to promoting student, staff and community well-being and health. UL can be arole model for sustainable developmentto pilot innovative approaches to: (1) determine communities’ requirements from outdoor spaces in relation to physical activity, health and well-being; and (2) achieving greater sustainability. This research will assess where and how campus communities use sustainable space, for physical activity, recovery and restoration, to inform case studies that will be relevant to campuses and workplaces. Environmental psychology has provided limited frameworks to understand how we benefit from human-nature interactions. To address this issue, we focus on contextual factors that promote psychological recovery (Sonnentag et al., 2017), well-being and mental health (Keyes, 2002), and green exercise (Gladwell et al. 2013). A longitudinal mixed-methods studywill be employed to account for seasonal changes and differences in job-demands across the semesters.  Targeting students, an age group at risk of mental health disorder, enables positive  lifestyle changes to become habits which can result in lifelong improvements in health and wellbeing, exercise and fitness. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be augmented by objective measures of sleep duration and physical activity. Among the proposed outcomes are an Evidence-Based toolkit to inform policy and translate into practice impact with multi-stakeholders cross-sectorally.

The supervisory team comprises Dr Tadhg MacIntyre (lead), Dr Giles Warrington, both of whom currently supervise IRC scholars (Anna Donnla O’Hagan; Jessie Barr), and Professor Dominic Harmon (Dept. of Pain Medicine, UHL), a consultant with expertise in mindfulness and nature based interventions. Together they have accumulated expertise in the psychology of well-being and mental health, and sleep science all of which are central to students thriving within a healthy campus. Candidates both EU and non-EU are encouraged to engage with the relevant project supervisors in advance of submitting an application to discuss the project in more detail and candidate’s subject expertise. It is expected that interview dates for successful applications will be held sometime between 2nd to 13th of July. Further information available from the lead supervisor and the submission date for applications is June 21st.

GO GREEN EX is a transdisciplinary research initiative led by Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre at the Health Research Institute at the University of Limerick. The aim is to develop evidence-based interventions based on human-nature interactions to benefit individual and organizational health, well-being and performance. We bring health, sport and environmental sectors together in collaboration to bridge sectorial gaps, as well as to maximize impact in society. Our studies explore the physiological, biological, psychological and neural mechanisms underlying the effects of nature-based solutions and interventions in a range of settings (e.g. indoor, outdoor built and natural outdoor). Promotion of well-being and workplace performance, and work engagement, mental health prevention, mitigation of environmental hazards and converting natural and human capital into social capital are among the potential outcomes of the interventions. The interventions include green exercise, micro-breaks, nature savoring, restorative spaces and psychoeducational programs. Our multi-stakeholder engagement includes partnership with Waterways Ireland, Sport Ireland, Coillte, Mental Health Ireland, the Psychological Society of Ireland, Crossing the line, European Network of Outdoor Sports, and the International Council for Coaching Excellence. Research collaborations to date include UK, Spanish, Greek, German, Norwegian academic institutions and Irish higher education institutions including Trinity College, UCD, NUI Galway and DIT.

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How Trees Can Help us Grow http://www.gogreenex.org/trees-can-help-us-grow/ Mon, 09 Apr 2018 08:42:11 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=374 Natural metaphors provide a lucid, illustrative and meaningful way of understanding ourselves, our relationships and our learning. They afford us

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Natural metaphors provide a lucid, illustrative and meaningful way of understanding ourselves, our relationships and our learning. They afford us the capacity to explore the concepts of metamorphosis, homeostasis, and resilience.

The technique was used to evaluate multidisciplinary inpatient mental health

In the March edition of the BPS journal The Psychologist featured a story on the use of the Tree Metaphor combined with a post-it task for for team members to express and talk about their strengths as well as their challenges. Authors Stella Gkika and Elaine Swift adapted a narrative therapy technique from Ncazelo Ncube, a child psychologist from Zimbabwe, to develop the ‘Tree of Work-Life’.

Attendees at the Valuing Nature Conference and our Mindscape Summit will be familiar with the approach where the natural symbol has a direct alignment with the conference themes. The tree logo was used to capture ideas from the event participants and also enabled informal break-out discussion.

Tree Poster from Valuing Nature Conference, Edinburgh.

At the Mindscape Conference last October, with over 75 participants and 20 presenters, we used the tree logo poster to explore participants objectives for attending at the event. To experienced facilitators, Pauline Jordan and Stephen Hannon and then shared the results with the participants to bookend the conference held last October.

The MindScape tree which was an interactive tool to increase participant engagement.

The process was fun and contrasted with the previous sessions didactic approach by sparking conversations which consolidated participants take home messages. Mindscape is planned for Nov. 2018 so please save the dates 15-16th November.

GO GREEN EX is a transdisciplinary research initiative led by Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre at the Health Research Institute at the University of Limerick. The aim is to develop evidence-based interventions based on human-nature interactions to benefit individual and organizational health, well-being and performance. We bring health, sport and environmental sectors together in collaboration to bridge sectorial gaps, as well as to maximize impact in society. Our studies explore the physiological, biological, psychological and neural mechanisms underlying the effects of nature-based solutions and interventions in a range of settings (e.g. indoor, outdoor built and natural outdoor). Promotion of well-being and workplace performance, and work engagement, mental health prevention, mitigation of environmental hazards and converting natural and human capital into social capital are among the potential outcomes of the interventions. The interventions include green exercise, micro-breaks, nature savoring, restorative spaces and psychoeducational programs. Our multi-stakeholder engagement includes partnership with Waterways Ireland, Sport Ireland, Coillte, Mental Health Ireland, the Psychological Society of Ireland, Crossing the line, European Network of Outdoor Sports, and the International Council for Coaching Excellence. Research collaborations to date include UK, Spanish, Greek, German, Norwegian academic institutions and Irish higher education institutions including Trinity College, UCD, NUI Galway and DIT and SME’s including ICEP Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Young Researchers Igniting Ideas for Disruptive Science: From MINDSCAPE to Video Portraits http://www.gogreenex.org/young-researchers-igniting-ideas-disruptive-science-mindscape-video-portraits/ Fri, 18 Aug 2017 19:16:38 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=299 EPA funded conference on Nature-Based Solutions for Community and Campus Well-BeingImpact is the key word in contemporary science and to

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Left to Right: Andree Walkin (UL Sport), Lucie De Graaf (ISPED), Dr. Aoife Donnelly (DIT), Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre (HRI, UL) and Dr. Giles Warrington (PESS, UL)
Conference theme: Nature-Based Solutions for Healthy Campuses and Communities

EPA funded conference on Nature-Based Solutions for Community and Campus Well-BeingImpact is the key word in contemporary science and to maximise it while studying green exercise and blue mind requires two key concepts. One is participant engagement in what is termed co-design of research to ensure it aligns with the needs of those who will benefit most from it. The second, is the more complex issue of disruptive science-the quest for a novel approach which trandisciplinary in nature. This creates a challenge for scientists many of whom have traditionally worked in silos using established paradigms. Research findings would in the past emerge from cumulative findings and breakthroughs would be rare. Instead, transdisciplinary science requires novel approaches using a shared paradigm across diverse disciplines. Studying human-nature interactions is by its nature (pun intended) complex. This area has  increasingly become the concern of scientists from across the disciplines. Our GO GREEN EX research aims to ignite new ideas using transdisciplinary approaches to generate disruptive science. This approach mirrors the current Bluehealth2020 project goals -a project which is concerned with investigating the effect of blue natural spaces on health and well-being.

GO GREEN EX Team

Fiona Donovan, National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network
Nollaig O’Sullivan, with Fiona Donovan, National Healthy Cities and Counties of Ireland Network and John Sweeney (Clare LSP)

Our generation of tech-savvy young researchers in exercise psychology, environmental science, public health and sport psychology consistently challenge traditional approaches to research. Firstly, their concern for participant engagement, effective feedback for participants and highlighting best practice case studies is an advance on traditional models. Furthermore, our team of young researchers including Jessie Barr (studying mental health in sport at UL), Chris Bryan (investigating resilience in sport and business contexts), Nollaig O’Sullivan (Clarisford Park-pictured left), Andree Walkin (UL Sport) with interns Lucie De Graaf (Institute of Public Health Epidemiology and Development-Bordeaux), Cathal Sheridan, Emma Feerick and Maire-Treasa Ni Cheallaigh have prioritised an exploratory model which is inclusive.

From Case Studies to Trandisciplinarity

Case studies with participants in exercise in green and blue natural spaces will enable us to weave their narrative into video-diaries which will be accessible online through local sport partnerships. We are working with Clare and Limerick LSP’s to record, develop and disseminate a series of case studies from athlete ambassadors (e.g. Niamh Briggs, Rosie Foley) and community champions (e.g. Keith Wood) to share the experiences of those from whom interaction with green and blue is integral to their well-being. For cross-channel swimmer, Rosie Foley (former international rugby player) the Shannon is her playground and route to reflection. Irish Women’s rugby captain Niamh Briggs uses the sea on her trips home to Waterford to clear her mind of the challenges of injury and recovery. Our research team including Cathal, Maire-Treasa, Jessie, Emma and Chris have been involved in the case study development and the current round of interviews will also feature in our forthcoming book published by Routledge Physical Activity in Natural Settings: Green Exercise and Blue Mind. Maire-Treasa is helping create video-portraits which will bring the individual narratives to life in a format which is accessible for a wide audience for health promotion.

Jesse Barr (UL), Lucie De Graaf (ISPED & DIT) with Tadhg MacIntyre at Clarisford Park, Killaloe, Co. Clare.

Lucie De Graaf has been outstanding in leading the planning, pilot-testing and development of the parkrun studies we are conducting which includes testing on-site and a national survey. The survey will enable us to map the experiences and attitudes of participants in these volunteer led sporting events and we will evaluate the social capital that they create with particular emphasis on positive interactions with the environment. See here for information on the parkrun approved survey. Lucie, in addition to her expertise in quantitative analysis has been engaged in planning the format of our forthcoming MINDSCAPE conference, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, to be held on Oct. 14th at Clarisford Park, Killaloe, Co.Clare.

EPA funded conference on Nature-Based Solutions for Community and Campus Well-Being

The event will bring together researchers, practitioners in outdoor sport and activities with government agencies and multi-stakeholders to develop partnerships and knowledge share. One goal of this is to influence the future planning of activity in the area of nature-based solutions and to bridge the gap between research and action on the ground. For instance, greenways and blueways provide an infrastructure for activity but the psychological connection to our natural spaces has been somewhat overlooked. Our research partners and collaborators can help merge the social and physical infrastructures in our natural landscapes to ensure people engage with nature and the environment more readily. International keynotes include Prof. David Sheffield (University of Sheffield), Prof. Marc Jones and Dr. Chris Gidlow (Staffordshire), Prof. Juergen Beckman (TUM), Prof. Mark Nieuwenhuijsen (Barcelona Institute for Global Health) in addition to Irish experts: Prof. Alan Donnelly (UL), Dr. Niamh Murphy (WIT) and Dr. Annalisa Setti (UCC) and Terri Morrissey CEO of the Psychological Society of Ireland.

Infographic of our Twitter Data Capture for European Week of Sport Sept. 23-30th

Jessie Barr (2012 Olympian) and doctoral student in psychology at UL, International rugby player Niamh Briggs and Kate Kirby (Head of Performance Psychology, Sport Ireland Institute) team up for a workshop in Dublin on Thur. September 21st, with an experiential dimension to kick off the European Week of Sport. The Psychological Society of Ireland are ambitious in ensuring psychology matters and this event will combine personal narratives from athletes with insights from research and lessons from practitioner psychologists. Entitled: Winning Through Well-Being: Exploring the Benefits and Co-Benefits of Sport and Physical Activity should be of interest to sport coaches and managers, support staff and athletes and players alike.

Twitter is the medium for rapid knowledge sharing for millennials and we have  a study inspired by our young researchers which uses hashtags to both promote and record activity in the outdoors. Using hashtags participants will be able to share their exercise experience-whether indoor or outdoor-whether in nature or on a pitch-whether in water or on land. They will be asked to say how the felt afterwards and to tag their county in the #BEACTIVE campaign. The program will be launched shortly in collaboration with Sport Ireland.

The future of our research ambitions is in the hands of the next generation and their engagement, innovation, and experiences will elucidate our knowledge of nature-based solutions for years to come.

 

 

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Reflections on Nature Connect 2017 Conference: From Derby to Nara http://www.gogreenex.org/reflections-nature-connect-2017-conference-derby-nara/ Fri, 07 Jul 2017 19:05:16 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=288 Nature Connections 2017 held at the University of Derby on June 27th brought together key people from research and provider

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Nature Connections 2017 held at the University of Derby on June 27th brought together key people from research and provider communities with an interest in this area. The conference included keynotes from award-winning author, naturalist and environmentalist Mark Cocker and James Cross: Chief Executive of Natural England. The eclectic event provided a platform for sharing and learning from the latest research and practice in nature connection. Core themes of nature connection outcomes across the lifespan; enabling nature connection; and linking nature connection research and practice were discussed and the Irish research groups NEAR Health funded jointly by HSE and EPA and our GO GREEN EX team were represented. The conference organiser, researcher Miles Richardson reflected on the great progress made since Nature Connections 2016 and how the evidence to support not just exposure to nature, but connecting with it in various forms is growing.

The large choice of researchers and professionals from very various disciplines has brought into light the complexity of our understanding of our relationship to nature. To move forward in this field of research, we need to think radically and innovatively (EU terms this disruptive science) and consider every facets of nature and our connection to it. This conference truly aligned with these considerations and offered a large panel of qualified speakers.

Presentations of available and standardised tools to measure our connectedness to nature (PhD student Ryan Lumber and Anne Hunt) was a great help as this kind of tools will be used for further field studies carried out by Go Green Ex. Joelene Hughes also brought some interesting points on our understanding of how environmental behaviours are shaped over the lifespan. These kind of research is crucial for the design of target pro-environmental messages.

This conference also provided consisting evidences on the healing power of nature. Caroline Brazier exposed her work on ecotherapy and how mindfulness of natural surrounding can help in a healing process. Same with Shirley Gleeson who perfectly described her own study on forest bathing therapy. Inspired from the Japanese and Korean forest bathing, this trial showed great results on mental health and mental well-being. On the same topic, the work of Wendy Brewin on using nature support on patient with dementia was greatly inspiring and creative. These three talks highlighted the importance of nature in healing processes and how it is available to any communities or to anyone. The case study presented by Annie Berrington met also these considerations as she exposed the positive results from the implementation of an outdoor adventure club on children with very little previous contact with natural environments.

A view of University of Derby through the cherry blossoms.

On another aspect to our link to nature, Kate Fletcher gave a genuinely inspiring speech about her work as a designer and as professor of Sustainability, Design and Fashion at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (University of the Arts London). She explained how nature and her relationship to it shapes her work and decisions. She also exposed the successes and difficulties she encounters when working into the woods with students. This conference was an opportunity to discover the remarkable work of Nikki Street on how we can amplify the power of nature through Art. Her neuroscience approach added the scientific research protocol that completed perfectly the previous presentations.

Our research partners from NUI Galway NEAR  research group presented findings from their stakeholder and community engagement. Our brief presentation focused on transdisciplinary approaches to well-being and we noted that key words including air pollution, resilience, and sport, had been overlooked at the conference. There is a open door for discovery of new evidence based pathways to well-being by employing transdisciplinary models. Taking into account environmental features, rather than simply assuming what is green is natural, is required.

A research topic in the journal Frontiers is dedicated to new ideas on nature and well-being-Editors include the conference chairperson Prof. Miles Richardson.

One interesting coffee inspired interaction was among our team, Lucie and Tadhg with Eun Yeong (PhD student at Sheffield Hallam) where together we spoke of how the the cherry blossom image resonated with us-In Nara, Japan, the brief coming of the cherry blossom represents the concept of renewal and the fleeing nature of life. Researchers must seize the day.

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GoGreenEx Celebrates the Women Leading the Way in Environmental Science http://www.gogreenex.org/gogreenex-celebrates-the-women-leading-the-way-in-environmental-science/ Wed, 08 Mar 2017 05:46:37 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=264 March 8th is International Women’s Day. This year’s campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange. With that in mind, the team at GO

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March 8th is International Women’s Day. This year’s campaign theme is #BeBoldForChange. With that in mind, the team at GO GREEN EX would like to take a moment to celebrate some of the women whose endeavour has had an enormous impact on our work.

Professor Lora Fleming is the Director of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH). The ECEHH is a research facility located at the University of Exeter, Truro campus.
It conducts important research into the connections between the environment and human health. Professor Fleming has
done a great deal of research on the interactions between a marine environment and human health. She is a recipient of the Dr Edouard Delcroix Prize and the Anton Bruun medal in recognition of her work.

Ms Holli-Anne Passmore is a researcher at the University of British Columbia. She has worked tirelessly to promote recognition of the interaction of nature and wellbeing within mainstream psychology. Ms Passmore has been awarded two research scholarships: SSHRC Graduate Scholarship which is awarded to outstanding postgraduate students, and the Killam Doctoral Scholarship for the advancement of learning.

Dr Easkey Britton is the first women to be nominated for the WSL Big Wave Awards for tow surfing. She also a five time Irish National Surfing Champion. Linked with her surfing prowess is her work researching and promoting health, social wellbeing, and interaction with blue spaces. She has spoken at Tedx conferences, surfing summits and international conferences. Projects which she is currently involved in include: the documentary Into the Sea, as well as founding Waves of Freedom an organisation that helps empower women through sport.

Dr Matilda Van Den Bosch is an Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia. Dr Van Den Bosch has worked as a consultant for the World Health Organisation (WHO) US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Her work includes investigating topics such as the health effects of urban parks. She is also president-elect of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment and president of the Swedish Society of Behavioural Medicine.

Julia Kane Africa leads the biophilic design and restorative landscape areas of the Nature and Health program at the Center for Health and the Global Environment, an academic research center at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. In this role, she examines the ways in which nature (parks and green spaces) and natural design cues (natural features in built environment settings) in urban settings support psychological and physiological health and resilience. Julia has completed graduate coursework in environmental health, exposure assessment, and sustainable design at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a member of the International Living Future Institute Biophilic Design Advisory Board and the Biophilic Cities Network.

Professor Maria Albin is head of the Epidemiology and Environmental Medicine at Lund University Hospital. She is also deputy head of the Occupational and Environmental section. Furthermore, she serves as director of Metalund, a research school dedicated to understanding environmental effects on Public Health.

Ms. Liesbet Dirven-van Breeman is a researcher at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands (RIVM). She works at the Centre of Sustainability, Environment and Health and studied ecotoxicology at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Ms Lieke Friederichs is an adviser in water management at RIVM. She has also worked for the WHO on issues relating to water and health. She has an MSc in International Land and Water Management and worked at Climate-KIC, a climate initiative offered by the European Centre of Innovation and Technology.

Dr Mireia Gascón is a specialist in toxicology and environmental health. She has worked at the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona as well as numerous other epidemiological projects.Professor Hilary Graham is Professor of Health Science at the University of York. Professor Graham was Director of the ESRC Health Variations Programme and is author of the books: Unequal Lives: Health and Socioeconomic Inequalities and Understanding Health Inequalities. Professor Graham has been awarded a CBE and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2016.

Dr Hanneke Kruize is a senior environmental epidemiologist at the RIVM’s Centre of Sustainability, Environmental and Health. Recently, she has led projects on green space and health. Dr. Kruize studied Environmental Epidemiology at Wageningen University before obtaining her PhD in Geographical/Environmental Sciences at Utrecht University.

Dr Stefania Marcheggiani is an environmental microbiologist at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) in Rome, Italy. ISS is the leading body performing research and training for public health in Italy. Dr Marcheggiani has previously been involved in EU research projects.Laura Mancini is a Senior Researcher at ISS and the Head of the Environmental Quality and Fish Farming Unit. She has published several papers on water quality and safety She has also been involved in a number of European projects.

Dr Dieneke Schram-Bijkerk is an environmental epidemiologist with RIVM. She has worked on several projects relating to health and the environment. Recently, her work has focused on the positive health effects of green spaces.

Camilla Puccinelli is a biologist working at the Environmental Quality and Fish Farming Unit at ISS. Her research interests include water quality assessment and ecotoxicological analysis.Professor Ana Maria Roda de Husman works at RIVM providing policy advice to policy makers at the Dutch government. She has also advised the European Commission, the WHO, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). She is also chair of Global changes and environmentally transmitted infectious diseases at the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences of Utrecht University.

Brigit Staatsen is senior researcher in environmental epidemiology at RIVM. She has an MSc in medical biology, with specialisation in epidemiology and toxicology. She has published papers on numerous topics including Health Impact Assessment and urban green spaces.

Susanne Wuijts is a Senior Researcher and policy advisor at RIVM. She has a background in hydrology and environmental engineering and is currently working on a PhD focussing on governance and water quality.
Cristina Vert is a doctoral student at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal). She has a MSc. in Public Health as well as experience working on the EXPOsOMICS project which investigates new ways to investigate environmental exposures.
Wilma Zijlema is a postdoctoral student working at CREAL. She has a PhD from the Department of Epidemiology at the University Medical Center Groningen, Netherlands and is currently working on improving understanding of the positive health effects of green and blue spaces.
Nicola Yeo is a PhD student at the University of Exeter Medical School. Nicola has a background in biomedical science and a MSc. in Environment and Human Health.Dr Tanja Wolf is a Technical Officer for Climate Change and Health at the WHO. She has contributing to several WHO publications, and has worked on several projects funded by the European Commission.

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Imagery and the Brain Seminar by Christopher R. Madan http://www.gogreenex.org/imagery-brain-seminar-christopher-r-madan/ Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:26:15 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=255 Doctor Christopher R. Madan, a postdoctoral researcher working at the Department of Psychology at Boston College, presented a research seminar

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Christoper R. Madan (Boston College)

Doctor Christopher R. Madan, a postdoctoral researcher working at the Department of Psychology at Boston College, presented a research seminar entitled “Movement imagery: Measurement and role in cognition” at PESS on February 7th. Chris has a B.Sc. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Alberta, Canada, and has worked as a visiting scientist at the Department of Systems Neuroscience at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, in Hamburg, Germany. In the Summer of 2017 he takes up an appointment as an Associate Lecturer at the Department of Psychology at the University of Nottingham.

Renaissance Researcher

Dr Madan has broad research interests within the fields of cognitive psychology, environmental psychology and neuroimaging. He research is focused on elucidating conceptual and theoretical issues in addition to methodological challenges in cognitive neuroscience. Unlike many of his peers in cognitive neuroscience the scope of his research is more renaissance like with the emphasis on breadth rather than simply specializing deeply on only one topic. For example, he recently authored the book entitled An Introduction to MATLAB for Behavioral Researchers (2014) and has expertise in statistical modelling. His recent post-doctoral work involves investigating issues regarding emotion memory and decision making but his research interests include brain morphology and motor imagery which was the topic of his talk at UL.

Going Green

Chris is a member of the GO GREEN EX H2020 consortium and a contributor to the forthcoming Routledge text on green exercise co-edited by Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre and Dr. Aoife Donnelly (TCD). His visit was part of the preparation for forthcoming grant calls and future collaborative activity. His expertise in visual cognition and motor imagery is highly relevant to studies that will explore the memorability of green exercise and its impact on prospective memory.

Novel Test of Imagery

Dr Madan told the audience how he developed a new tool to measure mental imagery ability called the Test of Ability in Movement Imagery, or TAMI. The aim of TAMI in its development was to develop a more objective test of movement imagery ability. Studies of movement imagery typically use established movement imagery questionnaires such as the Vividness of Movement Imagery Questionnaire (VMIQ; Isaac, Marks, & Russell, 1986) or the Movement Imagery Questionnaire (MIQ; Hall & Pongrac, 1983). Unfortunately, results from self-report measures such as these may be confounded by a number of potential biases. For example, certain populations may rate themselves as better in movement imagery. An athlete may be subject to social desirability bias as it is expected that an athlete would be better at vividly and accurately imagining a sporting movement than a non-athlete. Alternatively, they may simply have greater confidence in their imagery ability. Similarly, older adults may overestimate their level of physical and mental ability. TAMI seeks to address these biases.

The TAMI consists of a number of movement imagery tasks. Participants are asked to visual the performance of a motor task through a series of written movement instructions. They are then presented with a number of images depicting different body positions and instructed to choose whether the movement instructions they have received correspond with any one of the images. This requires participants to explicitly imagine the images that have been described in the written movement instructions which provide a measure of their movement imagery ability.

Testing of the TAMI reveal that Mean TAMI scores are slightly negatively skewed indicating a distribution which is biased towards higher scores. Nevertheless, mean performance was far enough away from a ceiling effect as to allow for comparison between populations that have a high mean score. Encouragingly TAMI has demonstrated high test-retest correlation suggesting that the test is internally consistent and therefore reliable. Comparison of TAMI with extant measures of movement imagery reveals high concurrent validity, suggesting that TAMI is a valid measure of movement imagery ability.

What are the Future Research Applications?

TAMI was developed to provide an objective measure for comparison of movement imagery ability between distinct populations, for example athletic and non-athletic populations. However, it has potential to be used in future research in a wide range of athletic, clinical and cognitive research. Questions focused on gender differences in imagery abilities and the use of computer based measures of imagery ability. Chris also shared the narrative of his personal research trajectory as a researcher, writing his first paper as an undergraduate student, publishing a textbook while at graduate school and forming meaningful collaborations with almost a dozen research labs. His ingenuity was also highlighted by his demonstration of a 3D brain (his own right cerebral hemisphere in fact) which he had printed with a comparison brain from an 80 year old which provided an interesting vignette to finish on.

Feature written by Kevin Volf (final year Sport & Exercise Student at PESS)

@cMadan

 

 

 

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Research Seminar Presentation at UL by Chris Madan on “Movement imagery: Measurement and role in cognition” http://www.gogreenex.org/research-seminar-presentation-ul-chris-madan-movement-imagery-measurement-role-cognition/ Wed, 01 Feb 2017 11:16:01 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=245 The Dept. of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick welcomes Dr. Christopher R. Madan (Boston College)

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The Dept. of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick welcomes Dr. Christopher R. Madan (Boston College) as part of the GO GREEN EX consortium to present on the topic of ‘Movement imagery: Measurement and role in cognition.’ His seminar on Tuesday 7th February, 17h00 will be held at the following venue: P1007, PESS Building, University of Limerick. Christopher R. Madan (@cMadan) is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology at Boston College, under the supervision of Elizabeth Kensinger (https://www2.bc.edu/elizabeth-kensinger/). Chris studies memory and decision making, with a particular emphasis on factors that make some experiences more memorable than others. He uses a variety of approaches to ask these questions, including cognitive psychology, neuroimaging, and computational modeling. You can find out more about Chris and his research interests on his personal website (http://www.cmadan.com). A contributor to a forthcoming monograph on green exercise and well-being, Chris has established expertise in visual cognition and motor imagery factors which are fundamental to our understanding of the processes underlying green exercise effects. For further info. follow @cMadan

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PSI Event Going Green for Wellbeing: A Case Study Approach to Implementing Green Exercise http://www.gogreenex.org/psi-event-going-green-wellbeing-case-study-approach-implementing-green-exercise/ Wed, 21 Dec 2016 13:52:52 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=232 On Friday, October 14th, the Division of Sport, Exercise and Performance hosted a workshop chaired by Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre at

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Dr. Chris Gidlow speaking at the PSI event.

On Friday, October 14th, the Division of Sport, Exercise and Performance hosted a workshop chaired by Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre at PSI (University of Limerick) entitled “Going Green for Wellbeing: A Case Study Approach to Implementing Green Exercise” at the Psychological Society of Ireland’s HQ, Grantham Street, Dublin. The workshop was based upon the work of the Going Outdoors: Gathering Research Evidence on Emotions Nature and Exercise (GOGREENEx) research team which is comprised of researchers from a variety of disciplines who have a keen interest in interactions between humans and the natural environment. The principal aim was to assess the impact of the human-nature interaction on individuals, groups and the environment. This was the final outreach event in our series funded by the Irish Research Council.

The workshop commenced with Dr. Christopher Gidlow, a Physical Activity Researcher at Staffordshire University, presenting a substantial body of research evidence which underlined that residing in and completing exercise in natural environments was more beneficial psychologically and health wise than exercising in urban or artificial environments. Exercise in natural environments was seen to be psychologically beneficial in terms of mood, directed attention, restorative experience and perceived effort. The mechanisms at play in accounting for these psychological and health benefits were presented as being fourfold: the physical activity itself, the reduced exposure environmental pollutants, the increased occasion for social interaction, and the restorative, stress reducing properties of natural environment. Though a caveat was highlighted around some limitations to the manner in which some of the evidence was compiled eg. The use of video clips to represent the respective environments, Dr. Gidlow concluded that there was a considerable evidence base to suggest living and exercising in a natural environment appeared to be advantageous in terms of physical and psychological health.

Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre introducing the athlete panel.

True to the interdisciplinary nature of the event, the next contributions came from a triumvirate of elite Irish athletes: Irish Open Water Swimmer Chris Bryan, 2012 Olympian Jessie Barr, and IRUPA Mental Health Ambassador Cathal Sheridan, who each shared their own personal experiences of green exercise and the impact it can have on an individual both psychologically and physically.

Chris Bryan told of how he had travelled the world competing in outdoor swimming events in spectacular venues but had been so intensely focussed on competing that he had failed to notice the splendour of his surroundings. He continued to detail how an increased awareness and acknowledgement of the beauty of the environment in which he was competing enabled him to gain a new perspective on competition and a newfound appreciation having the opportunity to compete in such spectacular surroundings. He explained how he had incorporated green exercise into his own training and how it had helped him adopt a new, less results focussed perspective on competitive sport.

Dr. Chris Gidlow, Dr. Aoife Donnelly with student athletes from UL: Jessie Barr (Athletic Ireland)Chris Bryan (Swim Ireland) and Cathal Sheridan (Munster Rugby)

The workshop continued with hurdler Jessie Barr discussing her experiences of green exercise. She spoke warmly of a yearly training retreat which took athletes away from the monotony of the white lines and red surface of the athletics track and into the more natural environs of forests and beaches in Wexford, labelling the weekend as consistently one of the most anticipated of her year. She also spoke with palpable frustration regarding a persistent Achilles injury which had left her unable to complete running training in natural environments. During this enforced absence, she had come to realise how much she gained from training of this nature, in terms of her own personal well-being.

The final guest speaker was Cathal Sheridan who was unable to attend the event in person (having sustained an unfortunate injury the previous week), but who did offer his thoughts via video link. He spoke of his most positive green exercise experience which occurred in a serene public park in Boston. This experience provided a keen exemplar of the difference savouring and truly immersing oneself in one’s environment can have. Upon his first visit to the park, he spent the majority of his visit attempting to take the perfect photograph to accurately encapsulate the beauty of the scene. However, on returning for a second visit, he described a much richer and invigorating exercise experience when he kept his phone switched off and attempted to completely immerse himself in the environment. He outlined the restorative effect this green exercise experience had had upon him as he returned to training the following week. He finished by outlining his intention to incorporate a regular green exercise component into the training regimes he was devising as coach of his local rugby team with the hope of similar effects being yielded amongst his players.

Discourse

The workshop concluded with a lively group discussion in which those in attendance contributed their own personal experiences with green exercise, as well as opinions on how to influence policy making towards the practical implementation of green exercise in the community.

On the whole, the workshop presented exercise in natural environments as an extremely useful tool in aiding physical and psychological health at both an individual and a societal level and presented a compelling case for increased acknowledgement of these benefits in terms of policy making and town planning decisions.

Stephen Smith an intern on the Go Green Ex project composed the above narrative and thanks to Dr. Olivia Hurley for the images.

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Build it and They Will Come: Healthy Ireland Chair Keith Wood on Clarisford Park http://www.gogreenex.org/build-will-come-healthy-ireland-chair-keith-wood-clarisford-park/ Sat, 20 Aug 2016 13:35:29 +0000 http://www.gogreenex.org/?p=202 Keith Wood, formerly one of Ireland’s most well-known rugby players, who has donned the Garryowen, Harlequins, Munster, Ireland and Lions

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Keith Wood, formerly one of Ireland’s most well-known rugby players, who has donned the Garryowen, Harlequins, Munster, Ireland and Lions jerseys, and was World player of the year during his incredible sporting career, has long been an advocate of healthy lifestyles. In recent times, Keith has exploited his leadership skills and his love for all things green by leading the Clarisford Park development in Killaloe. In 2014, he was appointed the chair of the Healthy Ireland Council, a multi-stakeholder national forum of representatives from “every sector of society” working together to “make real progress in making Ireland a healthier nation”.

Keith was motivated to get involved in Clarisford Park as it is in his home town of Killaloe, Co. Clare and a place where he used to play as a child. The development of the site was a long-term strategy simply due to the “the amount of energy and money needed for a development of its size”. Keith highlights that the right people needed to be involved and that “we were very fortunate to have a group of people willing to put the effort in and keep the energy up for the time needed”.

One of the aims of Clarisford Park and of Healthy Ireland is to connect and mobilise communities to get everyone to enjoy their best possible health. Clarisford Park was originally built to facilitate the local soccer, rugby and scouts clubs who, prior to the development of Clarisford Park “never had a home”. It is now more than just a home to the clubs. According to Keith it is “something bigger than that and more of the community”. All the clubs have a sub-lease to ensure the security of their club home and a place to call home long into the future.”

Since being developed, Clarisford Park has witnessed the establishment of a new athletics club, table tennis club, Clarisford parkrun, numerous ad hoc running and fitness groups and an open community park appealing to all ages in the community to use and enjoy. Being a family man himself, Keith can see the benefits Clarisford Park has for families; “while the kids are training, the parents can go for a walk or be part of the parkrun every Saturday morning and run together”. The Healthy Ireland Framework places huge emphasis on the importance of “giving every child the best start in life”. With a facility like Clarisford Park it is clear that the children of Killaloe Ballina are making strides in having a brighter and healthier future.

The atmosphere in Clarisford is one of calm and serenity. Keith sums it ups by stating that there is a “lovely feeling to the place; it is sport, it is healthy, it’s simple and it’s free”. With easy access at all times, Keith says “the gate is always open”.

Clarisford Park is a facility close to the hearts and minds of the people of Killaloe Ballina and is a resource that is available right on their doorstep.  Keith believes that being out in the fresh air of the countryside “makes you feel good about yourself too” and Keith loves nothing more than “running off into the hills”. Keith has always been very active from a young age with an early desire to play sport of all types. For Keith it was not all about “achieving at the highest level, it is about getting to that point of recreational activity where you are healthy in body and mind, and there is nowhere better than the countryside and the Irish countryside”. Keith describes the paths, hills and country roads by the water as “the best gym in the country” for him by far.

Clarisford Park was, undoubtedly, a challenging yet extremely valuable project for Keith Wood. He believes that the model of Clarisford Park can be transferred and implemented by other groups, however concedes that a “fair amount of seed funding” is required to make it a reality. The key to making it a happen was, well as Keith put it “fundraise, fundraise, fundraise”. A project of this nature would not have been successful without the expertise in project management and finance. Originally, a 15-year plan, nearly €2.5m was invested into the project to deliver the 3 phase development in just under 5 years.  Clarisford Park, in aligning to the objectives set down in the Healthy Ireland framework, continues to work towards improving the health and wellbeing of those in the community and reducing health inequalities.

Healthy Ireland developed an action plan called ‘A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025’ in which they set out four high level goals encompassing a “lifecourse approach and a population wide approach”. Healthy Ireland plays a major part in promoting sports leadership and physical activity. Keith realises that over the years, promotion has been solely focused on “the four main sports in Ireland: Hurling, Gaelic Football, Soccer and Rugby”. These sports have their place, “but it’s for all the people not involved in those, they need recreation and activity”. Exercise is important for everyone and has many benefits for physical and mental health

Keith Wood and Healthy Ireland recognise the value academics, scientists and researchers play in translating the evidence into everyday practice. Keith explains that the incorporation of this expertise into the project is crucial as “we need the data; we need the evaluations all the time to say we are getting healthier, to say that if you do this, you’ll get healthier, both in body and mind; to say that actually we have a pilot done and done successfully”.

Knowing that we can make a difference will be of great benefit to people’s health but “an awful lot of these things come down to funding”. Keith notes that “the harsh economics of all this is if we are an unhealthy country, it will cost the state a fortune”. Investing in our health before it becomes a problem is more sensible and is better for our economy and wellbeing. The partnership between Healthy Ireland and Clarisford Park continues to evolve through hard work and dedication to the cause. Together they have succeeded in raising awareness about health and wellbeing, succeeded in connecting and rallying local communities and are definitely on their way to making Ireland a healthier nation.

 

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