There is an intimate relationship between our emotions and the things around us
— Peter Zumthor

NATURE & WELLBEING

Numerous studies (see below) have shown that biophilic, nature-inspired and health-oriented interior design principles applies to the workplace give employees an enhanced feeling of wellbeing, increases their productivity, improves their creativity and reduces stress while also lowering staff turnover and staff sickness rates. Apple, Amazon and Google are just three of the more prominent early-adopters of this approach in their offices.

In educational environments students have seen increased learning speed in nature-inspired environments, while in healthcare centers such design choices have helped reduced patient recovery time and in retail stores it has been shown to help boost customer spend.

Scientific research into fitness and wellbeing spaces however is still in its infancy however so we aim to deliver a series of our own research projects as a small contribution to the movement at large: 

 

I left feeling so much better and relaxed, I didn’t want to leave... The plants, décor, aromas and birdsong took me back to a rural retreat
— VP at an Investment Bank

VITAMIN NATURE RESEARCH PROJECT / JANUARY 2018

In January 2018 we collaborated with leading London property developer EcoWorld Ballymore on a research project at its flagship Wardian London development in Canary Wharf, aiming to explore the impact of green urban living on personal wellbeing.

We converted a waterfront greenhouse into a Vitamin Nature space full of air purifying plants, an abundance of natural light, wellness lighting for the dark winter afternoons, forest aromatherapy, mindfulness games, nature sounds and a de-humidifier to boost air quality / improve thermal comfort. 

Over 100 visitors attended the space during the three-week research project, each of them completing a questionnaire upon arrival and departure from the space. Written by a team of expert scientists from the nearby University of Essex including Dr Mike Rogerson and Professor Jules Pretty OBE, the data explored stress levels, anxiety, negative mood state and nature-connectedness (a sign of vitality) before and after the Vitamin Nature experience.

The results will be formally published in Spring 2018.

 

GREEN EXERCISE RESEARCH PROJECT / JANUARY 2017

Biofit evoked a statistically significant change in both positive and negative mood states, with the workout increasing positive moods and decreasing negative moods among participants.
— Dr Steven Mann, UKActive Research Director

During our pop-up showroom in London in January 2017, we commissioned the UKActive Research Institute and University of Essex Green Exercise Group to carry out the world's first scientific research study into the health impact of 'indoor green exercise' (biofit natural fitness classes + biofit designed natural interiors).

118 participants completed a questionnaire before and after a 60min biofit group class; of those, 75% reported feeling less stressed after their session and 87% reported an improvement in positive mood state while 80% felt more connected to nature, a reflection of vitality and purpose. Here are the results in full:

 
This study suggests Biofit has the potential to benefit inner city offices, schools, health care centres and residential buildings by offering a restorative, nourishing environment in which to exercise all year round, even in a modestly sized indoor space”
— Matt Morley, Founder
 

 

USEFUL REFERENCES

Biofit - Indoor Green Exercise, UKActive Research Institute

Healthy Office - why wellness is the new green, The Fifth Estate (2017)

BUPA - Workplace wellness & Mental Health report

Nature Design for Better Health, Roger S. Ulrich

The Economics of BiophiliaTerrapinn

Green is Good For You, American Psychological Association

Biophilic Design in the WorkplaceProf. Cary Cooper

Going Green In the WorkspaceProf. Cary Cooper

Green Offices Keep Staff Healthy & Happy, World Green Building Council

Forest Bathing Enhances Human Natural Killer Activity and Expression of Anti-cancer Proteins, Tsunetsugu Y1, Park BJ, Miyazaki Y 

The Cost Effectiveness of Addressing Public Health Priorities Through Improved Access to the Natural Outdoors, Valuing Nature, 2017

The Importance of Green Space for Mental Health, Jo Barton & Mike Rogerson, 2017

A Review of the Benefits of Nature Experience: More Than Meets The Eye. Lara S. Franco, Danielle F. Shanahan, and Richard A. Fuller (2017)

Green Mind Theory: How Brain-Body-Behaviour Links into Natural and Social Environments for Healthy Habits. Pretty, Rogerson & Barton (2017)

Occlusion of sight, sound and smell during Green Exercise influences mood, perceived exertion and heart rate, Wooller, J. J., Barton, J., Gladwell, V. F., & Micklewright, D. (2015)

The relationship between nature connectedness and happinessColin A. CapaldiRaelyne L. Dopko, and John M. Zelenski

The great outdoors: How a green exercise environment can benefit allGladwell VF, Brown, DK, Wood CJ, Sandercock GR and Barton JL (2013)

Therapeutic effect of forest bathing on human hypertension in the elderly.Mao G.X., Cao, Y.B., Lan, X.G., He, Z.H., Chen, Z.M., Wang, Y.Z., Hu, X.L., Lv, Y.D., Wang, G.F., Yan, J. (2012). 

Does Participating in Physical Activity in Outdoor Natural Environments Have a Greater Effect on Physical and Mental Well-being than Physical Activity Indoors? A Systematic Review. Thomson Koon J, Boddy K, Stein K, Whear R, Barton J et al  (2011).

What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for improving mental health. A multi-study analysis. Barton J and Pretty, J. (2010)

What Is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health. Barton, J. & J. Pretty (2010)

Green Exercise in the UK countryside: Effects on health and psychological well-being, and implications for policy and planning. Pretty J, Peacock J, Hine R, Sellens M, South N et al (2007).

Physiological Effects in Humans Induced by the Visual Stimulation of Room Interiors with Different Wood Quantities, Tsunetsugu, Y., Y. Miyazaki, & H. Sato (2007).

Greenspace, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation? Maas, J., Verheij, R., Groenewegen, P., de Vries, S., Spreeuwenberg, P. (2006). 

Shinrin-yoku (forest-air bathing and walking) effectively decreases blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. Ohtsuka, Y., Yabunaka, N., Takayama, S. (1998).