Center for Outdoor Activities and Leisure (COAL)

Center for Outdoor Activities and Leisure (COAL)

​​

About the Centre for Outdoor Activities and Leisure​

This research group aims to investigate the role that outdoor activities and purposeful leisure may play in our health and well-being. Evidence suggests that engaging in purposeful activity is linked to healthy ageing and higher levels of happiness. We also know that engagement with nature can be restorative for many people in times of stress.

COAL comprises a group of researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University from The Department of Applied Psychology, Biomedical Sciences and the School of Sport. This inter-disciplinary mix enables us to draw on a range of expertise in quantitative and qualitative methodologies and to understand psychological, social and physiological parameters. The aim of the group is to understand the myriad of benefits that can be gained from engaging in physical activity or leisure pursuits with a particular focus on the role of the outdoors. We are currently engaged in a wide variety of projects investigating, for example, how gardening, walking, care farming and working with animals may benefit individuals and communities. The majority of our research involves working with real life projects in local communities and our collaborators are key to the success of this work.

To contact us about COAL please email:

COAL@cardiffmet.ac.uk

Growing a Healthy Older Population

​​​​​The aim of this study is to evaluate the potential role of allotment and community gardening activity for promoting healthy ageing in the over 50s. In order to do this we are looking for volunteers who are interested in having their health and well-being monitored over a 4-month period whilst they take part in either allotment or community gardening. It doesn't matter if you don't already have an allotment or aren't currently involved in a community gardening project as we are helping to link people up to local initiatives in their area as part of the research.

If you are interested in getting involved or finding out more, please take a look at the other pages listed in the menu on the left hand side of this screen. They contain lots of useful information about the research, and if you have any questions or want to get involved you can contact us via telephone, email or post.

We hope that you enjoy your trip around our webpages and hope to hear from you soon :)

 

About the Programme

The GHOP project is funded by the Welsh Government's National Institute for Social Care and Helath Research, under the Social Care Research Award, until April 2013. The project is a collaboration between Cardiff Metropolitan University's Schools of Sport and Health Sciences and Cardiff University's School of City and Regional Planning. The project is supported by the Public Health Improvement Research Network. 

This two year program of research will focus on how allotment and community gardening projects may benefit older people’s physical and psychological health, as well as how they may also offer wider benefits for the community, such as community regeneration. Previous research has provided anecdotal evidence for these benefits, but there is a lack of more robust scientific data. As the waiting lists for traditional allotment plots are currently very long, we are interested in comparing the benefits of this activity to gardening on community-based gardening projects as these are usually more easily accessible and may offer similar benefits.

Over the last 12 months, an extensive scoping study involving local stakeholders has taken place and has lead to the development of a robust methodology for evaluating the wide ranging benefits of allotment and community gardening activity.

In addition, to evaluating the benefits among people who are already active gardeners on allotments or in community growing projects, a group of older people who have not previously engaged with activities will be introduced to gardening projects. The impact of participation in gardening activity will be measured using psychological and physiological tools.

Following the first stage of the research and depending on the results of this,  participants’ feelings about their experience and what participating in gardening activity meant for them will be explored through semi-structured interviews. The research will, therefore, establish the role that allotment and communal gardening could play in healthy ageing.

Please read on to meet our research team and find out more about what taking part in the project involves.

Meet the Team

​​​​

On this page you can find out more about the researchers involved in the study, including those who will be carrying out some of the measures if you decide to take part in the project. Please click on the names to find out more information.

Karianne Backx, Steering Group Member
Deborah Clayton, Principal Investigator
Jenny Mercer, Steering Group Member
Paul Milbourne, Steering Group Member

Taking Part in the Research

If you are interested in helping us with our research, please take the time to read through the information on this page which outlines what being a participant in the project involves. 

We are looking for adults aged over 50 from South East Wales to take part in the study.

You can take part if you meet one of the following criteria.
  • Currently garden on an allotment plot 
  • Or are on the waiting list for an allotment plot 
  • Or currently garden at a community gardening project 
  • Or are thinking of joining a local community gardening project 
Taking part in the GHOP project involves
  • Arranging to meet with the researcher at your allotment plot/community garden/home to complete the following set of measures:
    Simple questions about your age, gender and health.
    Non-invasive physiological measures of blood pressure, height, weight, lung function, grip strength, balance and fitness.
    Questions relating to your gardening activity, physical activity habits, feelings and beliefs, and other lifestyle factors.
    [This session would take around an hour to complete] 
  • Arranging to meet with the researcher to complete the above measures two more times, at 2 months and 4 months after the initial appointment. 
  • Keeping a brief log in between the research sessions about the amount of time you spend at the allotment plot/community garden. 
  • Being contacted in the future regarding the possibility of undertaking additional tests or answering more questions. [This is optional] 

As a thank you for taking part, you will receive a feedback sheet with your results from the physiological health measures. There will also be a £10 garden centre voucher as a thank you to those people who complete all 3 sets of measures.

The project has been reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Cardiff Metropolitan University and your confidentiality will be completely safeguarded during and after the course of the research. For more information about our confidentiality procedures, please download the information leaflet from the link on the right.

Community Gardens

If you are interested in helping us with our research, please take the time to read through the information on this page which outlines what being a participant in the project involves. There are some images and brief information about the measures here, and on the right you can download the full information sheet for more details.

We are looking for adults aged over 50 from South East Wales to take part in the study.

You can take part if you meet one of the following criteria.
  • Currently garden on an allotment plot 
  • Or are on the waiting list for an allotment plot 
  • Or currently garden at a community gardening project 
  • Or are thinking of joining a local community gardening project 
Taking part in the GHOP project involves
  • Arranging to meet with the researcher at your allotment plot/community garden/home to complete the following set of measures:
    Simple questions about your age, gender and health.
    Non-invasive physiological measures of blood pressure, height, weight, lung function, grip strength, balance and fitness.
    Questions relating to your gardening activity, physical activity habits, feelings and beliefs, and other lifestyle factors.
    [This session would take around an hour to complete] 
  • Arranging to meet with the researcher to complete the above measures two more times, at 2 months and 4 months after the initial appointment. 
  • Keeping a brief log in between the research sessions about the amount of time you spend at the allotment plot/community garden. 
  • Being contacted in the future regarding the possibility of undertaking additional tests or answering more questions. [This is optional] 

As a thank you for taking part, you will receive a feedback sheet with your results from the physiological health measures. There will also be a £10 garden centre voucher as a thank you to those people who complete all 3 sets of measures.

The project has been reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Cardiff Metropolitan University and your confidentiality will be completely safeguarded during and after the course of the research. For more information about our confidentiality procedures, please download the information leaflet from the link on the right.

Research Results

​​The results of the project were released on June 27th 2013 with an event at the University which was attended by 80 of our participants and stakeholders. At the event, we discussed the results contained within the first summary report, which can be downloaded here: 
To listen to a feature from the Good Morning Wales radio programme about the benefits of community gardening including an interview with our researcher Dr Jemma Hawkins, please click here: 
You can also follow our twitter account for progress on the project data collection and analysis, our twitter account is called @GHOPproject or you can click the following link to see our page: 
Some results from our previous research on the benefits of allotment gardening for health and well-being can be viewed by clicking on the following links: 

Contact us

If you would like to register your interest in taking part in the project, or if you have any questions about the research please get in touch with us on:

Telephone: 02920 201172

E-mail: ghop@cardiffmet.ac.uk

Twitter: @GHOPproject

Facebook: GHOP project

Our office hours are 9am-5pm from Monday-Friday, if there is no answer, please leave a message on the answer phone and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Alternatively, you can fill out and send the contact form below and we will respond to your message as soon as possible.