The Autistic Experience of Exercising within Nature-Based Environments: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis

Article


Bishop, C., Beale, J. and Bruce-Low, S. 2023. The Autistic Experience of Exercising within Nature-Based Environments: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Physical Activity and Health . 7 (1), pp. 115-131. https://doi.org/10.5334/paah.243
AuthorsBishop, C., Beale, J. and Bruce-Low, S.
Abstract

Background: The psychological impact of exercising in nature has gained considerable research attention in recent years under the heading green exercise (GE). Literature has examined specific benefits of GE, comparison between indoor and outdoor environments and has utilised different theories to understand these benefits and differences. To date no academic literature has examined the impact of GE on autistic people with a diagnoses of Aspergers Syndrome (AS) (a former term to refer to autism without an accompanying intellectual disability), and a condition characterised by hypersensitive and hyposensitive senses, intuitively it has been suggested that the natural environment might not be a compatible setting for autistic people due to its unpredictable and sensory provoking conditions.

Method: A group of four autistic males were interviewed using a semi structured interview schedule. Interviews were transcribed and then analysed using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA).

Results/Discussion: Three superordinate themes were identified, positive introductions to nature (this group discussed how important having a good start in this environment was to engaging in this activity), positive association with nature (the participants viewed natural environments where they exercised in a positive way), and purpose and practicalities (participants spoke of viewing GE favourably when there was a purpose to it above and beyond doing it for its own sake) with 5 associated subordinate themes. Results suggest that autistic people appear to get considerable positive psychological outcomes from engaging within GE which relate directly to some of the features of AS e.g. disruptive concerns and that a functional purpose to the GE would be helpful in terms of encouraging uptake of and adherence to GE within an autistic group.

KeywordsGreen Exercise (GE); Aspergers Syndrome (AS); Physical Activity (PA); Autism; Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis; Nature Based Exercise
JournalPhysical Activity and Health
Journal citation7 (1), pp. 115-131
ISSN2515-2270
Year2023
PublisherUbiquity Press
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Anyone
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.5334/paah.243
Publication dates
Online21 Apr 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted06 Apr 2023
Deposited31 May 2023
Copyright holder© 2023, The Author(s)
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