This report details the results of an empirical study that examined perceived health and well-being motives and benefits among visitors to a sample of Alberta’s parks and protected areas. The study revealed several major findings with important policy and management implications. First, the human health and well-being benefits that the visitors expected to receive from visits were perceived to be a major personal motivation in the choice to visit Alberta protected areas. The most important motivation factors identified by respondents were psychological and emotional well-being (89.1% of visitors ranked this important), social well-being (88.3%), physical well-being (80.3%), and environmental well-being (79.4%). Second, the perceived benefits that visitors received from their protected areas experiences were substantial. The most frequently reported improvements were related to psychological and emotional (90.5%), social (85%), and physical well-being (77.6%). Interestingly, women perceived greater benefits than men associated with their visit, especially with respect to spiritual, social, and psychological and emotional well-being. Research findings substantiate the need for park agencies to better understand the motivations of visitors representing different social and population subgroups (e.g., youth, elderly, couples, etc.) in order to inform and develop policies and visitor experience programs in support of health and well-being related pursuits. Important policy and management implications for both park managers and health care professionals are highlighted.
Lemieux, Christopher J., Sean T. Doherty, Paul F.J. Eagles, Joyce Gould, Glen T. Hvenegaard, Elizabeth (Lisa) Nisbet and Mark W. Groulx. 2015. Healthy Outside-Healthy Inside: the human health and well-being benefits of Alberta’s protected areas - towards a benefits-based management agenda. Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA) Occasional Paper No. 20. CCEA Secretariat, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. vi + 71 pp.