Dr John Allan, Kingswood's Head of Learning and Impact, shares his insight into ways adventure can directly improve wellbeing.
According to The World Health Organisation, having good health is defined as being in a “state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing.”* That certainly sounds desirable, and outdoor adventure ticks all those boxes.
Dr John Allan, Kingswood’s Head of Learning and Impact, has given us a steer on the top five ways outdoor adventure and nature-based physical activity significantly improves wellbeing. Having fun is just the start!
Physical activity in nature and the feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves really enhances our mood, health and wellbeing. We all know from times of the pandemic lockdown, the huge difference getting outdoors made to our sense of wellbeing. That feeling of connection with the environment and immersion in nature gives us a unique chance to relax and gain perspective. To illustrate the importance of nature to public health, in 2017, the UK government published their 25-year environment plan which emphasized helping people improve their health and wellbeing by using green space.*
Outdoor adventure activities - we have around 50 at each Kingswood centre, from zipwires to paddle boarding - are ideal examples of physical activity in nature which enhances well-being. The impact of nature-based physical activity increases motivation, increases opportunities for social contact, improves cardiac health and lowers high blood pressure, enables emotional regulation and brain growth. A recent report by the British Medical Council states that access to local green spaces increases the probability that individuals will achieve the recommended physical activity guidelines by over four times*
Outdoor adventures have wonderful restorative benefits. Being directly immersed in an outdoor adventure not only improves wellbeing it’s been shown to reduce stress. Creating a lifestyle that involves adventure and keeping fit improves your ability to cope with life’s stressors, whatever they may be. Did you know that 87% of Finnish people, the happiest country in the world, believe that nature is important to them because it gives them peace of mind, energy and relaxation?*
For young people in particular, adventure is a way to discover more about themselves. It facilitates self-determination and the chance to stretch themselves by applying continued effort and working collaboratively with others when participating in new, more challenging adventure activities. Spending time taking part in outdoor adventure within nature increases our vitality, well-being and gives us a sense of personal growth. There is so much to be learned through adventure experiences no matter what age; which can be attributes to an individual’s capacity to adapt to challenges and lead a happy life.
Being active and going on a new adventure creates the ideal environment to use up lots of energy and feel super tired. Also a great foundation for vivid dreams and feelings of contentment at the end of the day. Sleeping well has transformational benefits to our health and plays an important part in improving wellbeing.
So why not prioritise adventure and improve your wellbeing in 2023?
* World Health Organisation, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression, July 2019
* Health and Wellbeing in an Outdoor and Adventure Sport Context, Dr John Allan et al, MDPI, 2019
* The World Happiness Report, www.cnbc.com, January 2023
* British Medical Council Public Health, 16:420, doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3050-9.