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Outdoor Health and Wellbeing

Hikers cross a plateau in a sunny, mountainous landscape.

The physical and mental health benefits of being active in nature/outdoor environments has been recognised for many years and builds on Wilson’s Biophilia Hypothesis that highlights people’s innate affinity to being outdoors in a range of environments including the seashore, woods, open countryside and hills/mountains.

Ullrich’s Stress Reduction Theory, and Kaplan and Kaplan’s Attention Restoration Theory provide further insight into why we want to be outside (even if we don’t really realise it ourselves), whilst Louv’s Nature Deficit Disorder — The Last Child in the Woods is a damning criticism of the impacts of technology, urbanisation and globalisation that characterises western societies' move away from nature.

The impact of the Covid pandemic highlighted people’s growing awareness of local green spaces that are easily accessible from home and free to use.

The move to a biopsychosocial (holistic) model of health that promotes better physical and mental health outcomes because of appropriate exercise in nature aligns with the concept of physical literacy.

Working from the idea that moving and being in nature supports our health and wellbeing and drawing on over 30 years of outdoor education teaching and expertise at UWTSD, we work with a range of partners developing a focus on health and wellbeing in the outdoors.

To learn more about this work or studying the MA Outdoor Education and postgraduate research contact Dr Andy Williams at a.williams@uwtsd.ac.uk.