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Home HortTechnology "Greenness Level" is Predictor of Athletes' Performance
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SAN MARCOS, TX—Can good landscaping actually improve athletes' performance? Researchers say greenery and landscaping can indeed be a "performance predictor". According to the authors of a new study from Texas State University, track and field athletes perform better when they compete in landscaped green spaces. "Research has suggested that plants reduce anxiety, and this reduced anxiety could, in turn, improve athletic performance," noted Jennifer DeWolfe, the study's lead author. "Studies have also shown that plants have psychological and restorative value, as well as the potential to improve concentration and focus attention that could affect performance of athletes."

The study, published in HortTechnology, focused on collegiate track and field athletes. "Studies show that optimum track and field performance anxiety levels vary depending upon the events' requirement for physical power and muscle mass increase," DeWolfe explained. "Unlike distance runners, a sport that only requires athletes to run, events like shot put, pole vault, and triple jump require higher anxiety levels because the events have more elements involved with moving the body weight at the right time with the right force." DeWolfe coauthored the study with colleagues T.M. Waliczek from Texas State University and J.M. Zajicek from Texas A&M University.

Based on their previous research that found multiple psychological benefits from people's interactions with nature and green spaces, the researchers designed a study to investigate the impact of greenery and landscaping on athletic performance and cognitive and somatic anxiety in track and field athletes. The study included four university teams and 128 athletes. Track and field sites used in the study included: University of Texas (Austin), Rice University, (Houston), Stephen F. Austin University (Nacogdoches), and Texas Tech University (Lubbock). Professional horticulturists used a five-point Likert scale to rate the "greenness/landscaping level" of each venue, ranging from "no greenery" to "fully landscaped". Athletes' performance and scores on cognitive and somatic anxiety tests were collected from seven track meets during one season, and each athlete's performance was ranked from worst to best. The researchers then used a regression analysis to determine if the presence of greenery on the track and field competition site was a predictor of athletic performance.

The analysis showed that greenness level was a "predictor of best performance"; more of the athletes' best performance marks were at the track and field site that had the highest greenery rating, and many of the athletes' worst performance marks were recorded at the site that had the lowest greenery rating. Results also indicated that all athletes performed better at the more vegetated track and field site regardless of event and level of anxiety.

"This study shows a connection between athletic performance and levels of greenness or landscaping in track and field areas and indicates the potential benefits of plants on athletic performance—perhaps justifying an increase in percentage of university funds allocated for landscaping," concluded DeWolfe, Waliczek, and Zajicek.

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The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: http://horttech.ashspublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/21/3/329

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at ashs.org


 

Original Article:

The Relationship between Levels of Greenery and Landscaping at Track and Field Sites, Anxiety, and Sports Performance of Collegiate Track and Field Athletes
Jennifer DeWolfe, T.M. Waliczek, and J.M. Zajicek
HortTechnology 21:329–335. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

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