Anna K. Leal, Marco A. Basteris. Centenary College, Shreveport, LA.

Physical activity performed outdoors, or green exercise, has physical benefits with the added advantage of improving mental health. Conversely, research shows that phone usage negatively affects college students. Increased cell phone use in this population has been linked to low physical activity and increased sedentary behavior; low academic performance; and increased anxiety. Therefore, the purpose of this pilot study was to determine if cell phone presence affects the anxiety- and stress-reducing properties of green exercise. Eighteen college students were randomly assigned to a control group (without phone) or phone group (with phone) and completed a 45 minute-hike at a local wildlife refuge. Before and after the hike, subjects completed the nature relatedness scale (NR-6) and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule-Short Form (PANAS-SF). These surveys measure participants’ nature-relatedness, which is associated with environmental connectedness, happiness, and ecologically sustainable behavior and degree of positive or negative affect, respectively. Before, during, and after the hike ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were taken. Subjects in the phone group also had phone use, including frequency of use and attention to phone recorded. Based on our data, there was no significant difference between the two groups for the NR-6 or PANAS. RPE for the control group was 8.2 ± 0.6 pre-hike; 9.2 ± 0.6 mid-hike; and 9.0 ± 0.5 post-hike, while it was 8.9 ± 0.6 pre-hike; 9.5 ± 0.5 mid-hike; and 9.8 ± 0.5 post-hike for the phone group. There were no differences between these values. While data collected failed to reach significance, results from this pilot study inform future directions. Next, we plan on increasing the length and difficulty of the hike while expanding the number of subjects. This will allow us to determine if cell phone use affects the anxiety- and stress-reducing properties of green exercise in college students.

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