Aug 28, 2018 | by Marta Moratti

Does outdoor recreation with family promote subjective wellbeing?

Today we publish the systematic review that looks at the wellbeing outcomes when taking part in outdoor activities with family. There is existing evidence on the benefits being outdoors has for our wellbeing but less evidence of the wellbeing benefits when the time is spent with family. Here we outline the key findings.

There is existing evidence that shows that doing outdoor activities can be good for our wellbeing. It can make us feel happier, and more satisfied with life, or less anxious and depressed.

The impacts of outdoor activities for families on wellbeing are:

  • The idea of self (self-identity, worth, value)
  • The abstraction/feelings (escapism, sensorial, relaxation)
  • Social bonding

This review was carried out to see if taking part in physical activity outdoors with your family affects subjective wellbeing. By subjective wellbeing we mean the good and bad feelings arising from what people do and how they think.

Key findings

Overall the evidence base was limited with the number of studies and quality, especially for quantitative studies.

From the quantitative studies initial evidence indicates that taking part in outdoor recreation with families:

  • Has no significant effect on children’s quality of life.
  • Has no significant effect on self-esteem and other measures of psychological wellbeing.

From the qualitative studies the initial evidence findings showed more positive impacts when taking part in outdoor recreating with families showing:

  • Improved self-competence learning and identity
  • Improved wellbeing via escapism, relaxation and sensory experience
  • Improved social bonding as a family

In particular analysis of survey data shows that people’s enjoyment of the outdoors is enhanced when they are spending time with family and friends, and in particular with partners.

See the evidence in action with two case studies:

Gain a more in-depth understanding of the evidence

Previous article
Next article


Practice Examples
Jul 14, 2015
Dance to Health
Apr 7, 2021 | By Ingrid Abreu Scherer
Community hubs and green space: real-world evidence for enhancing wellbeing 
Centre Blog
Nov 20, 2018 | By Centre
Can community sport impact young people’s wellbeing in disadvantaged areas?
Centre Blog

Sign up to our weekly e-mail list

Sign up to receive resources, insights and evidence as they are published.

Gain a more in-depth understanding of the evidence

Previous article
Next article