Green Exercise Research Group (UoE)

The home of Green Exercise research at the University of Essex

Current green care evaluations


The Wildlife Trusts- The Wildlife Trusts contribution to Wildlife, Nature and Human Well-being

The Wildlife Trusts commissioned the University of Essex to conduct three-phases of work assessing their contribution to wildlife, nature and human well-being. The phases include a literature review; multi-study analysis to determine the effect of previous Wildlife Trust activities on health; and a study to more directly measure the impact of current initiatives on various health measures such as self-esteem and well-being.

Phase 1 report can be found HERE

Phase 2 report can be found HERE

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Brighton and Hove Food Partnership- Sharing the Harvest

The Sharing the Harvest project is a three year project which aims to support vulnerable people in accessing community food growing activities to improve their physical health, social connections, skills, confidence and mental well-being. The University of Essex is evaluating the effects of this project on a variety of health measures such as self-esteem, mood and well-being, skills development and confidence over the course of the three years.


The Wilderness Foundation

We are proud to be the evaluation partner of the Wilderness Foundation. Our research evidences outcomes of a range of programmes for young, at risk and vulnerable individuals.


The Out There Academy is a personal development programme which targets disadvantaged young people aged 13-19 years and engages them in nature-based activities. The project provides opportunities for learning outside of the classroom, with personal development sessions and one-to-one mentoring, aimed at improving self-esteem, confidence, health and well-being, employability, skills and positive behaviour.

The TurnAround project is a 12-month personal development programme for young people who without intervention are likely to drift into a life of unemployment, petty crime and anti-social behaviour. The programme engages the young people in a combination of wilderness trails, mentoring, skills workshops and nature-based activities with the aim of improving their life changes and enabling them to enter society and become self-sufficient. 

The Imbewu programme, for young people aged 13-16 works to connect urban youth - most of whom have never experienced the natural world before - with the wisdom of people who live and work in rural Scotland.


Our evaluations of the previous project phases have identified important benefits for participants', including improvements in self-esteem, mood, behaviour, mindfulness and well-being, and reductions in anti-social behaviour.


Ten years after LEAF commissioned us to run research alongside their Open Farm Sunday event, this year we did the same. The research evaluated impacts of Open Farm Sunday experiences on attendees' perceptions of farming and the functions of farms, and their wellbeing. Our report will follow.


Previous evaluation partners

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Mind- The Ecominds Grant Programme 

The Ecominds Programme was part of the Big Lottery Fund's Changing Spaces Initiative, which funded environmentally-orientated projects. The environmental projects targeted people with direct experience of mental distress and helped to integrate them into the community. We evaluated the physical, social and environmental benefits of the projects involved in programme and identified improvements in participant well-being and social engagement and increases in connection to nature and environmentally friendly behaviour (PDF report). See

Care Farming UK- Care Farming Provision in England          

There are over 230 care farms providing thousands of people each week in the UK, many from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sections of society, with vital social, therapeutic and education services, but the latent potential to do more has now been uncovered in recent research by the Green Exercise Research team in conjunction with Care Farming UK and the University of Leeds, published by Natural England (PDF report)


Dementia Adventure- Living with Dementia and Connecting with Nature.   

Dementia Adventure examined the benefits of contact with green space and participation in adventure activities for individuals living with dementia. The study aimed to determine whether green exercise enables people living with dementia to feel well and experience a temporary reduction or absence of dementia related symptoms, and also whether walking outdoors helped them to positively reframe their identity and self-worth (PDF report).


Essex County Council- The Generations Growing Together Project                           

We were involved in the evaluation of the Generations Growing Together Project, funded by Essex County Council. The project targeted users of community allotments throughout Essex to determine the mental and physical health benefits of contact with green space through participation in the schemes. The evaluation identified that attendance at community allotments lead to improvements in well-being, nature experience, diet and social interaction (PDF report)

RSPBTo establish a robust methodology for measuring connection to nature in children 

The Royal Society for the Protection of birds commissioned the University of Essex to establish a practical and robust method of evaluating connection to nature in children; to be used in future RSPB research. Three existing methods were piloted and the reliability and easiness of use assessed for each to determine the most appropriate scale for use with children (PDF report). See


Suffolk Wildlife Trust- The Networking Nature Project

The Networking Nature project aims to encourage people living in Suffolk to ‘take action for wildlife’, by setting up and improving local green spaces, such as conservation areas and villager trail, for the benefit of local wildlife and also for local people to enjoy. The University of Essex is evaluating the effects of this project on individuals’ behaviour, action towards wildlife, skills and experience, confidence to create and manage habitats and knowledge sharing.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust- The Youth Outdoor Experience   

 The Youth Outdoor Experience provided structured outdoor activities in local green spaces for young people to help them build exercise outdoors into their lifestyle. The University of Essex was commissioned to evaluate the effects of the programme and found that indoor and outdoor physical activity increased and that participants experienced improvements in well-being (PDF report).