RESEARCHERS are to conduct a study at a Lothian health centre to see whether outdoor or indoor exercise is better for a person’s health.
The results will be used by councils to plan leisure programmes.
The extensive study, which starts next month, is being run by the University of Edinburgh, which will monitor up to 100 “guinea pigs” for a year at Xcite in Bathgate.
Half of the volunteers will be allocated indoor activities such as swimming, gym sessions and classes. The others will take part in regular outdoor exercise such as gardening, walking and golf.
Each participant will have been referred to the complex by local doctors for medical reasons, meaning the age and gender of the volunteers will be determined at random.
Results from the study will be published next year.
Dr Ruth Jepson, who is leading the research, said factors such as weight, mental health status, lung capacity and blood pressure would be recorded at regular intervals for each volunteer over the course of the study.
Questions will also be asked of participants to find out which group enjoyed exercise the most and stuck with a more active lifestyle.
Dr Jepson, below, said: “When people are referred by GPs, they’re always only referred to leisure centres, which only do indoor activities.
“We know that’s not what everyone wants.
“We’re trying to see if they were given the option of both outdoor and indoor or one or the other, is there one that’s better than the other?”
The research has been commissioned and will be carried out by the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy based at the University of Edinburgh.
It is the first project of its kind in Scotland. A Scottish Government report released in 2010 estimated obesity was costing the country’s economy £3 billion a year.
Dr Jepson said she hoped results from the study would help councils and leisure trusts to plan health programmes and facilities including new outdoor spaces, “Green Gym” environmental programmes and walking routes.
The Green Gym initiative involves experienced leaders guiding people through a range of practical projects.
Results from the study are expected to be published next year.