Health and wellbeing benefits of activities in the outdoors
This chapter utilises a socio-ecological model to frame an exploration of literature clarifying how human health and wellbeing is enhanced through engagement in outdoor experiences. It focuses on the human or anthropocentric perspective and explores ways in which the natural environment contributes to health and wellbeing. The accumulated evidence emphasises that health and wellbeing are enhanced through activities in the outdoors, with some researchers calling for increased sophistication in the 'prescription' of outdoor activity. The development of a socio-ecological understanding of health and wellbeing, considering the context and history of the individual, enables a fuller depiction of his or her health needs. For many practitioners the socio-ecological approach to understanding health has appeared to ignore the human relationships with the natural world, focusing instead on the built environment or human-centric places. The chapter discusses health and wellbeing for the individual, followed by an examination of social and 'significant other' relationship benefits.