Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)

Department

Kinesiology

Faculty/School

Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dawson, Kimberly

Advisor Role

Supervisor

Abstract

Academics and practitioners have only just begun to delve into the health benefits of outdoor activities in the last few years. In general, the forested settings of these activities have been documented to decrease stress levels, increase recovery rates from disease, and lessen the symptoms of mental illnesses (Kuo & Faber Taylor, 2004). It is believed that the natural environment acts as a setting where humans can engage in physical activity, aesthetic experiences, and social interactions that, in turn, release stress and lead to improved well-being (Bird, 2012). Currently, however, children are experiencing limited exposure to nature and which has been linked to lowered academic performance, ADHD, decreased mental health, and other adverse conditions (Louv, 2008a). The majority of current research on children and outdoor physical activity has occurred outside of Canada and North America (Casson, 2009). The purpose of the present study was to qualitatively explore the experiences of children, and their parents, who participated in an adventure running program in Southern Ontario. Adventure running is a new and unique sport that combines navigation and running in a forested setting. Six parents (4 males, 2 females), five children (2 females, 3 males), and a program coach (male) were interviewed. Results indicated that parents and children chose to enroll in this program based primarily on past physical activity experiences and recommendations. Parents, children, and the coach perceived that the program benefited the families involved by changing their physical activity patterns and encouraging more participation in outdoor leisure activities. Parents also cited several societal, personal, and environmental factors that determined whether they would participate in outdoor physical activity. Findings are discussed with respect to larger societal issues, such as contemporary parenting ideologies, physical activity patterns of families and the community reception of such programs.

Convocation Year

2014

Convocation Season

Fall