Mental wellbeing and the outdoors

Posted by Emma Travers on 10/06/2019
99% of women agreed that the outdoors has a positive impact on their mental wellbeing. Photo: Hetty Key

Why do you climb? From getting stronger and ticking off projects to spending time with our friends, we all have our reasons. However, there is increasing evidence that activities like climbing, mountaineering and hiking are good for our minds as well as our bodies.

For many, it's an escape - as you take on the challenge ahead your mind quietens focusing solely on the task in hand. But what is it about spending time in the mountains and hills that makes us feel this way?

A recent survey, run by the independent research project Women in Adventure looked to find out precisely that, asking over 2,500 women about how they spend their time outdoors and the effect this has on their happiness, worthwhileness, life satisfaction and anxiety. It also examined the impact adventure sports has had on other areas of their lives, exploring which sports have the most significant effect on wellbeing.

Hetty Key, lead researcher at ​Women in Adventure​, said: “Instinctively I think we know that spending time outdoors is good for us. When I launched the survey, I felt there was a lack of accessible information showing how and to what extent the outdoors impacts our lives.”

Launched in October 2017, the survey quickly gained traction receiving over 2,500 responses from 44 different countries with hundreds of women reaching out to share their personal stories. The results were near unanimous - a staggering 99.6% of women agreed or strongly agreed that the outdoors had a positive impact on their mental wellbeing. Self-esteem, resilience, outlook on life and future prospects also all saw a benefit from time outdoors.

When comparing the different adventure sports, the results showed that each discipline had a different effect on mental wellbeing. Mountaineers (15% of survey respondents) felt what they did in life to be highly worthwhile, sitting above the survey average, whereas hikers (the most popular sport at 62%) demonstrated that their time outside led to slightly better than average happiness and anxiety. Climbers (21% of survey respondents) sat below the survey average throughout. However, one thing was evident across all sports - the outdoors obviously had a positive effect on the lives of these women in adventure, with mental wellbeing improving with increased participation.

“Now the results are published, clearly showing the benefit the outdoors has on our mental wellbeing, I want to use them to drive positive change,” said Hetty. “I hope activity providers and those who are invested in promoting the outdoors will utilise this information to help widen participation, improve accessibility and increase diversity.”

The full results of the survey are available for download via the Women in Adventure website.


As the climbing walls, crags and mountains start to open, we wanted to say thanks to every BMC member who supported us through the Coronavirus crisis.

From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t have made it without you.

If you liked what we did, then tell your friends about us: www.thebmc.co.uk/join


« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 3811 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Winners announced for the Women in Adventure Film Competition 2020
0
Winners announced for the Women in Adventure Film Competition 2020

Inspirational winners revealed as the 2020 BMC TV Women in Adventure Film competition awards are announced.
Read more »

Join us at the Women in Adventure Workshop and Screening at BMC ShAFF
0
Join us at the Women in Adventure Workshop and Screening at BMC ShAFF

Due to the cancellation of ShAFF this year, the Women in Adventure 2020 events have now been cancelled.
Read more »

Time to get watching the new 2020 Women in Adventure films!
0
Time to get watching the new 2020 Women in Adventure films!

We’ve been flooded with a wave of fantastic fresh entries to the sixth annual BMC TV & Womenclimb Women in Adventure Film Competition and have 30 new female-led adventure films to share with you.
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
2
25/06/2019
Next step: in an age of increasing climate consciousness, can anyone figure out which activities give the most increase in well-being per unit of ecological footprint? Including some more mainstream leisure activities e.g. running, playing football, watching telly, shopping?

I imagine climbing could score either very high or very low in comparison, depending on transport choices.

RELATED ARTICLES

Winners announced for the Women in Adventure Film Competition 2020
0

Inspirational winners revealed as the 2020 BMC TV Women in Adventure Film competition awards are announced.
Read more »

Join us at the Women in Adventure Workshop and Screening at BMC ShAFF
0

Due to the cancellation of ShAFF this year, the Women in Adventure 2020 events have now been cancelled.
Read more »

Time to get watching the new 2020 Women in Adventure films!
0

We’ve been flooded with a wave of fantastic fresh entries to the sixth annual BMC TV & Womenclimb Women in Adventure Film Competition and have 30 new female-led adventure films to share with you.
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »