2022 年 67 巻 p. 657-672
Restrictions on going out due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have caused various psychological problems in many Japanese elementary school students, such as stress, anxiety, fear, helplessness, and anger. In this context, promotion of nature experience activities has been advocated, and have been reported to improve mental health. In addition, since a decrease in daily physical activity/exercise level is reportedly associated with a deterioration in mental health, the level of physical activity/exercise should be taken into account when evaluating the effects of nature experience activities. The purpose of this study was to examine the longitudinal effects of nature experience activities on the mental health of elementary school children during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking into consideration the daily level of physical activity/exercise. The participants were 130 fifth and sixth grade elementary school students (60 boys and 70 girls). The survey was conducted at 3 time points: just before the nature experience (pre-survey), just after the experience (post-survey), and 1 month after the experience (follow-up survey). Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire that assessed: 1) the degree of anxiety and limitation of activities related to COVID-19, 2) daily exercise level (hours), 3) social support level, 4) mental health level, 5) content of experiences in nature experience activities, 6) stress level. The participants were divided into high- and low-exercise groups according to their median scores. In the high-physical activity group, the pre-survey anger score (a component of mental health) was significantly higher than the scores for the post- and follow-up surveys. In addition, the self-confidence score (a component of mental health) for the postand follow-up surveys were significantly increased from the pre-measurement score, regardless of exercise hours. Therefore, it was shown that nature experience activities, while considering the influence of daily exercise, may be important for retaining calmness and confidence in daily life, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there was no significant relationship between mental health and the content of nature experience activities. Therefore, it will be necessary to examine such content, which is closely connected with improvement in mental health.