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Adventurous Physical Activity Environments: A Mainstream Intervention for Mental Health

Abstract

Adventurous physical activity has traditionally been considered the pastime of a small minority of people with deviant personalities or characteristics that compel them to voluntarily take great risks purely for the sake of thrills and excitement. An unintended consequence of these traditional narratives is the relative absence of adventure activities in mainstream health and well-being discourses and in large-scale governmental health initiatives. However, recent research has demonstrated that even the most extreme adventurous physical activities are linked to enhanced psychological health and well-being outcomes. These benefits go beyond traditional ‘character building’ concepts and emphasize more positive frameworks that rely on the development of effective environmental design. Based on emerging research, this paper demonstrates why adventurous physical activity should be considered a mainstream intervention for positive mental health. Furthermore, the authors argue that understanding how to design environments that effectively encourage appropriate adventure should be considered a serious addition to mainstream health and well-being discourse.

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Correspondence to Peter Clough.

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Peter Clough, Elizabeth Mallabon, Susan Houge Mackenzie and Eric Brymer declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Designing environments to enhance physical and psychological benefits of physical activity: A multi-disciplinary perspective.

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Clough, P., Houge Mackenzie, S., Mallabon, L. et al. Adventurous Physical Activity Environments: A Mainstream Intervention for Mental Health. Sports Med 46, 963–968 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-016-0503-3

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Keywords

  • Adventurous Activity
  • Wilderness Therapy
  • Adventurous Physical Activity
  • Adventure Seeker
  • Wilderness Therapy Program