Becoming one with nature: a nature intervention for individuals living with cancer participating in a ten-week group exercise and wellness program
Master of Science
Psychological benefits of nature
Physiological benefits of nature
Nature relatedness, spiritually and nature
Oncological care and nature
Horticultural therapy (cancer patients)
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Intro/Background. Nature encompasses green or blue, earthy-textured environments comprised of biological entities. Positive outcomes associated with psychological and physiological well-being have resulted from exposure to nature. However, there is limited evidence for nature-based interventions and their effect on specific populations, such as individuals living with cancer. Purpose of Study. The purpose of this mixed-method study was to determine if incorporating the One Nature Challenge (ONC) into a ten-week group exercise program (WE-Can) for individuals living with cancer can offer psychological and/or physiological benefits in addition to those previously observed by WE-Can participants. Other research motives investigated seasonal variation between experimental groups and nature-based health measures change over time. Methods. For this study, two separate ONCs were implemented throughout two distinct seasons (i.e. summer and winter). Previous graduates of WE-Can were formulated as a control group (n=160; 59±11yrs). Psychological and physiological assessments for 18 participants (60±12yrs) were evaluated throughout two WE-Can sessions. In addition, nature relatedness (NR; ie. the relationship one has with nature) and spirituality were measured at the beginning, middle, and end of WE-Can. Following five weeks, the ONC began and participants tracked the number of days they experienced nature for a minimum of thirty-minutes (24±6 days), for a thirty-day period. For each intervention, the ONC finished concurrently with the WE-Can so that post-evaluations and a focus group could be administered immediately following. Results. No additional gain in overall improvement was found for both cancer-related psychological and physiological health between groups. However, a significant difference did exist for aerobic fitness and fatigue, indicating an additional improvement caused by ONC. This was supported by frequent active pursuits engaged in throughout the ONC and conveyed restoration of the mind due to a shift in perception while in nature. Spirituality significantly improved, while controversially, NR did not improve over time. Conclusion. In conclusion, the lack of statistical significance observed could be attributed to the small sample size and/or the high level of NR portrayed prior to ONC, indicating participants were already ‘one with nature.’ Although this exploratory study indicated nature to have a strong association with aerobic fitness, fatigue, and spirituality further investigation on the cancer population is warranted.
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