Both spending time outdoors and participating in physical activity improve mental health. Given that the outdoor environment provides an ideal location for physical activity, better understanding of the relationships among time spent outdoors, physical activity and positive mental health is needed to help guide interventions. The aim was to examine if physical activity moderates or mediates the relationship between outdoor time and positive mental health. Two-hundred-forty-two participants (15 ± 1 years old, 59% girls) from New Brunswick, Canada were included in the current analysis. Youth self-reported time spent outdoors and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) three times between October 2016 and June 2017. Data on their mental health were collected in October 2017. Values of outdoor time and MVPA were averaged across the three time points to represent the exposure and mediator variables, respectively. Mental health, dichotomized as flourishing/not flourishing, was the outcome in the mediation analysis. An interaction term tested if the mediation effect depended on outdoor time. Analyses were undertaken in 2019 using the mediation package in R. In univariate analyses, both MVPA (p < 0.001) and outdoor time (p = 0.05) were positive predictors of flourishing mental health. In mediation analyses, a small indirect mediation (OR: 1.02, 95% CI: 1.01–1.04) and no direct (1.00, 0.98–1.05) effect were noted, suggesting that MVPA mediates the effect of outdoor time on positive mental health. This effect did not vary as a function of outdoor time (interaction: 1.00, 0.99–1.01). Physical activity mediates the relationship between outdoor time and positive mental health. Outdoor time could promote positive mental health among youth through increases in physical activity.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Adolescence, Mediation, Mental health, Outdoor time, Physical activity
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2019.101006
Journal Preventive Medicine Reports
Citation
Bélanger, M. (Mathieu), Gallant, F. (François), Doré, I. (Isabelle), O'Loughlin, J.L. (Jennifer L.), Sylvestre, M.-P. (Marie-Pierre), Abi Nader, P. (Patrick), … Sabiston, C.M. (Catherine M). (2019). Physical activity mediates the relationship between outdoor time and mental health. Preventive Medicine Reports, 16. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2019.101006