Outdoor Activity Benefits
Australian research into the benefits of outdoor adventure activities conducted by the Centre of Tourism Research at the University of Canberra.
Here is the Executive Summary from this informative free ebook available here
Research into the benefits of outdoor adventure activities highlights the valuable contribution they make to personal health and wellbeing. As the empirical and anecdotal evidence in the outdoor adventure field begins to unfold, the proliferation of evidenced-based research grows exponentially. The unique opportunities within the natural and social environments offered by outdoor adventure activities provide varying contexts in which these positive connections are made. These connections are referred to in the outdoor adventure literature as being with the self, others and the environment. Outdoor adventure activities provide opportunities for the connection of individuals with nature (the natural environment), direct connection with other people (interpersonal), and importantly, with themselves (personal). Specifically, the benefits of these connections are shown to lie in the strength and placement of these connections.
This report draws on research from education, recreation, leisure, tourism, sport, adult learning, health, and therapy to highlight the evidence of the positive contributions of outdoor adventure activities. The authors acknowledge the combined effects of difficulties encountered when measuring experiences and benefits with the paucity of Australian and New Zealand research in this area. This has meant a broad sweep of the available research to include both qualitative and quantitative studies, theoretical papers, and reports from complimentary disciplines and other countries. The evidence-based research reported on here used a variety of methods including meta-analyses, questionnaires (mostly utilising psychometric questioning e.g. Life Effectiveness Questionnaire – LEQ), and in-depth interviews and were either cross-sectional or longitudinal in design.
The main benefits of outdoor adventure activities, as shown in the evidence-based literature, include interpersonal and intrapersonal skills developed through engaging in outdoor adventure activities in meaningful ways. Benefits for the natural environment were less directly evidenced, however indirectly were given as developing more nurturing individuals and communities, and the development of environmental awareness and stewardship. The long-term nature of changed attitudes to the environment and sustainability are yet to be examined through longitudinal research.
Benefits were evident in the psycho-social, psychological, physical and spiritual domains, particularly with regards to developing self efficacy, intellectual flexibility, personal skills, and relationship building. The benefits that result from participating in outdoor adventure activities are facilitated through the provision of appropriate facilities and natural resources and well as the design of programs that are intentionally working towards particular objectives.
While there was a wide range of available research, what this review highlights is the need to establish a strategic interdisciplinary research agenda within which researchers, program and activity providers, land managers, policy advisors and other key stakeholders may conduct research and evaluation, and then disseminate the knowledge for others to build upon.
You can get the full ebook HERE