Meaning and 6 Main Purpose of Outdoor Sport


Meaning and 6 Main Purpose of Outdoor Sport

In one of article, you have been introduced to outdoor sport.

In this article, you are going to learn about the meaning and purpose of outdoor sport

At the end of this article you should be able to explain the meaning of outdoor sport and discuss the 6 main purposes of outdoor sport.


Meaning of Outdoor Sport

Outdoor sport or outdoor activity refers to recreation engaged in out of doors, most commonly in natural settings. 

The activities themselves – such as fishing, hunting, backpacking, and horseback riding - characteristically determine where they are practiced. They are pursued variously for enjoyment, exercise, challenge, camaraderie, spiritual renewal, and an opportunity to partake in nature.

Though the activities are inherently lean to sports they nonetheless do not all demand that a participant be an athlete, and competition generally is less stressed than in individual or team sports organized into opposing squads in pursuit of a trophy or championship.

When the activity involves exceptional excitement, physical challenge, or risk, it is sometimes referred to as "adventure recreation" or "adventure training", rather than an extreme sport. 

Other traditional examples of outdoor recreational activities include hiking, camping, mountaineering, cycling, canoeing, caving, kayaking, rafting, roc k climbing, running, and sailing, skiing, sky diving and surfing. 

As new pursuits, often hybrids of prior ones, emerge, they gain their own identities, such as coasteering, canyoning, fastpacking, and plogging.

The term sport is used interchangeably with physical activity and based upon the inclusive, broad definition of the Council of Europe (1992) that describes sport as “All forms of physical activity which, through casual or organized participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels”. 

6 Main Purposes of Outdoor Sports

There is widespread knowledge and a body of evidence-based research on the importance of physical activity especially for physical and mental health and well being.

 Furthermore, there is growing evidence on the benefits for people of being in nature or having contact with the natural environment.

Experts from different fields have highlighted the benefits of outdoor sports that often go beyond being active in a non-natural environment.

Beyond the health enhancing effects of physical activity and nature, outdoor sports are also associated with social benefits including the intra- and interpersonal development for young people, crime reduction, and active citizenship as they provide unique opportunities within the natural and social environments.

Meaning and 6 Main Purpose of Outdoor Sport

They connect individuals with nature, with other people and with themselves and so achieve a range of positive effects simultaneously.

In the context of urbanization, insufficient activity levels, sedentary behavior, and an increasing disengagement between people and the natural environment, it raises the question if and how outdoor sports can be part of the solution.

However, there is a gap in the evidence base to better understand the benefits of outdoor sports as a whole and therefore support investment in health enhancing physical activity (HEPA) in the natural environment.

The benefits were grouped into six broad categories including physical health, mental health and well being, education and life-long learning, active citizenship, crime reduction, and anti-social behavior as well as additional benefits.

1. Physical Health Benefits: As per physical activity in general, outdoor sports are associated with a range of positive health benefits. This includes general health related factors such as increased fitness and better cardiovascular function, as well as reduced blood pressure, obesity, resting heart rate, and a positive influence on other health markers.

Those health-enhancing effects result in a reduced risk for several major diseases like heart attack, 13 types of cancer, stroke, and type 2diabetes. Leisure-time physical activity however is also associated with higher risks of malignant melanoma and prostate cancer.

2. Mental Health and Wellbeing Benefits: Several research teams highlight the positive effects on general mental health and psychological stability of being active in the natural environment. Evidence was also provided of impacts on overall wellbeing, quality of life, happiness, and life satisfaction. 

Overall, green and blue environments seem to have especially positive effects that go beyond the benefits of being physically active in a non-natural environment. 

In this context, Thompson, Coon, Boddy, Stein, Whear, Barton, and Depledge conducted a systematic review of the comparative effects of participating in indoor and outdoor activity that confirms these effects.

Reported effects of exercising in natural environments were that participants had greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression.

Studies that analyze the influence of outdoor sport and recreation on special affective states show positive effects for mood, resilience, feelings of revitalization, and positive engagement as well as restoration for people living in cities.

Negative affective states like stress, depression, anxiety, tension, confusion, anger, rumination, loneliness, and neuroticism could be reduced by participation in outdoor sports.

Furthermore, many positive experiences are described such as pleasure and enjoyment, meditation, independence, basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness, experiences of flow, comfort and intense emotions, enhanced feeling of body, discovering the pleasure of achievement, vital strength and a higher will to live in drug addicts, and of course an intense nature experience.

As a possible negative effect, feelings of calmness and tranquility may be decreased following outdoor exercise.

3. Benefits in Education and Life-Long Learning: Outdoor sports provide an environment that leads to an intense contact with oneself, others and nature and therefore are discussed for having impacts on interpersonal and intrapersonal development as well as influencing the relation of humans with nature. Intrapersonal development was highlighted in the literature as being about the physical, mental, cognitive, emotional, social, behavioral, and spiritual aspects of self.

It includes personal skills and improved motor skills, an increased emotional intelligence, personal responsibility, mindfulness and an enhanced spiritual, sensory, and aesthetic awareness.

4. Active Citizenship: As outdoor sports provide opportunities and places for social interaction, contacts, and relations they can lead to increased social connectedness and are therefore associated with various benefits of active citizenship.

This includes volunteering and community benefits such as the construction and maintenance of local community life, identity, and pride. In this context, outdoor sports are also described as a contributor to bonding capital for families, groups, and communities

5. Crime Reduction and (Anti-) Social Behavior: Outdoor sports can be used to increase pro social behavior, reduce smoking, alcohol and substance misuse, or prevent youth delinquency. 

Experiences of controlled risk are furthermore discussed as a mechanism to help to improve the behavior and habits of adults with drug addiction or other social exclusion factors.

6. Additional Benefits: Two aspects have been described as additional results in many studies. One important aspect that has been underlined in many studies and project evaluations was that outdoor sports support physical activity throughout the entire life course.

Outdoor sports were shown to be used as a tool to successfully activate sedentary, non-active people, promote active and healthy lifestyles, and are able to influence positive attitudes towards physical activity.

As outdoor sports have connections to lifetime activity-habits, they can foster sport adherence over the life course and help people to find and maintain an active way of life.

In a systematic review, Thompson, Coon, Boddy, Stein, Whear, Barton, and Depledge raised the question as to whether physical activities in outdoor settings are more beneficial compared to indoor ones.

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