The Mental and Physical Benefits of Outdoor Adventures for Adults

Outdoor Adventure

The sad reality is that many adults suffer from what Richard Louv has termed “Nature Deficit Disorder.” In today’s modern, technology-driven world, people spend more and more time indoors – in front of screens. This is one of the factors contributing to the current obesity epidemic in America. According to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010, “more than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese.” The solution could be as simple as spending more time outdoors. A return to nature and outdoor adventures can have a tremendous impact on health – not only physical health, but mental health as well.

“One obvious positive impact of active involvement in the outdoors is physical fitness, which directly impacts on obesity and health in later life,” writes Randall Williams, Chair of the English Outdoor Council. “Less obvious, but nevertheless very real, is the physiological and psychological impact on well being.”

Mental Health Benefits of Outdoor Adventure

Adult play can be an “important means of reducing stress and contributing to overall well-being,” writes Washington Post reporter Jennifer Wallace in her article “Why it’s good for grown-ups to go play.”

We all need a way to unwind, especially after a long day, week, or month at work. 83 percent of men and 72 percent for women admit that workplace stress carries over into their personal lives as well, according to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America’s (ADAA) 2006 Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey.

“Highly playful adults feel the same stressors as anyone else, but they appear to experience and react to them differently, allowing stressors to roll off more easily than those who are less playful,” says Lynn Barnett, a professor of recreation, sports and tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Physical Health Benefits of Outdoor Adventure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that adults perform at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense activity every week. However, the gym just isn’t for everyone. So, maybe it’s time to “think outside the barbell,” says Dr. Marc Tinsley. “One of the main problems is that people associate exercise with a gym or equipment. Fitness isn’t about sweat, six-packs, and sex appeal; it’s about having enough energy to do your activities of daily living safely and effectively.” The solution: get outdoors and get more creative with your physical fitness.

“If outdoor activity encourages more activity, then it is a good thing,” says Jacqueline Kerr, a professor at the University of California, San Diego. After all, “despite the fitness industry boom, we are not seeing changes in national physical activity levels, so gyms are not the answer.”

“Sports such as hiking, canoeing, swimming, racket and ball sports and numerous other physical activities give you more choices for enjoyable exercise, which is likely to keep you motivated,” says Tina Pashley of LIVESTRONG.

Outdoor Adventures with Terrapin Adventures

Tours & Trips

“Time spent in outdoor recreation leads to a range of benefits, from reduced obesity rates to strengthened family ties,” says Robert Manning, professor of recreation management at the University of Vermont.

Visit us at Terrapin Adventures to soar through the air, defy gravity, and enjoy our many Outdoor Adventures! We offer several guided tours and outdoor activities, such as biking, backpacking, kayaking, and geocaching, just to name a few. Activities levels range from easy to moderate, so there is something for everyone! And we are great with beginners.

“Outdoor exercise can be adapted to anyone’s level of fitness,” advises Tina Vindum, the author of Tina Vindum’s Outdoor Fitness: Step Out of the Gym into the Best Shape of Your Life and the first outdoor fitness instructor accredited by the American Council on Exercise.

Find Your Next Adventure!

“What all play has in common,” says Brown, “is that it offers a sense of engagement and pleasure, takes the player out of a sense of time and place, and the experience of doing it is more important than the outcome.”

Challenge Course (High Ropes Course)

Conveniently located in Howard County, Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington DC, Terrapin Adventures features the ultimate challenge course with three levels taking you up to 40 ft. in the air! Each of the 19 traverses is designed to entertain and challenge participants. Conquer them all if you can! The experience will truly be one to remember.

“It is clear that challenge course experiences are beneficial tools for participants” and can impact “a variety of educational and psychological constructs,” write researchers  H. Lee Gillis, a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Georgia College & State University, and Elizabeth Speelman, the Assistant Director of Program Development for the Youth Learning Institute at Clemson University.

In 2010, researcher Jenny Phan tested the benefits of organized adult play on the challenge course (high ropes course), analyzing the benefits of such activities on 120 subjects. The results revealed that just one afternoon on the challenge course “impacted the participants at an emotional and social level,” and most participants saw a noticeable increase in their “emotional and social skills.” Of the 120 participants, 79 stated that the activities had some type of an impact on their ability to overcome fear, 76 noted a positive impact on self-esteem, 104 trust, 97 confidence, 83 empathy, 75 ease of stress, and 94 noted a positive outlook on life after their afternoon on the challenge course.

Book Your Outdoor Challenge Course Adventure!

“Play has the power to deeply enrich your adult life, if you pay attention to it,” says psychiatrist Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play in Carmel Valley, California.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited

  1. Wickes, Stuart. “Kids need adventure. Parents need to teach them how.” Family Adventure Project. N.p., 08 Jan. 2016. Web. 23 June 2017.
  2. Stadsvold, Jenna. “Adventure Play: The Benefits of Risk Taking.” Head Rush Technologies. N.p., 04 Nov. 2016. Web. 23 June 2017.
  3. Wallace, Jennifer. “Why it’s good for grown-ups to go play.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 20 May 2017. Web. 26 May 2017.
  4. “Maybe that workout can wait till the weekend?” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
  5. “Turns out Americans work really hard…but some want to work harder.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
  6. “Weekend exercise alone ‘has significant health benefits’” BBC News. BBC, 10 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
  7. CBS/AP. “Do “weekend warriors” reap the full benefits of exercise?” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 09 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
  8. Sample, Ian. “Weekend workouts can benefit health as much as regular exercise, say researchers.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 09 Jan. 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.
  9. “Highlights: Workplace Stress & Anxiety Disorders Survey.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
  10. Phan, Jenny. “The Impact of Therapeutic Recreation through Ropes Courses and Teambuilding Activities.” Diss. 2011. Abstract. Print.
  11. Gillis, Lee H., and Elizabeth Speelman. “Are Challenge (Ropes) Courses an Effective Tool? A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Experiential Education 31.2 (2008): 111-35. Web.
  12. “The Benefits of Adventure Therapy Activities For Young Adults.” Pure Life Aspiro. N.p., 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.
  13. Williams, Randall. “The Benefits of Outdoor Adventure – RSA.” RSA 21st century enlightenment. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2017.
  14. Pashley, Tina. “Physical, Social, Emotional & Intellectual Benefits of Outdoor Recreation.” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 26 May 2015. Web. 12 May 2017.
  15. Writer, Leaf Group. “Physical, Social, Emotional & Intellectual Benefits of Outdoor Recreation.” Back. Azcentral.com, 29 Sept. 2016. Web. 12 May 2017.
  16. Iliades, Chris . “The Benefits of Outdoor Exercise.” EverydayHealth.com. N.p., 09 Dec. 2009. Web. 12 May 2017.
  17. Reynolds, Gretchen. “The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Feb. 2013. Web. 12 May 2017.
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