Outdoor Recreation & Outdoor Leisure:
Issues, Trends, Theory & Research

James Neill
Last updated:
07 Dec 2005

Quick Guide

Outdoor Recreation & Outdoor Leisure

Outdoor recreation and outdoor leisure are generally pursued for a person's enjoyment, whether it be for a sense of relaxation, thrill, developing skills, or being with others and the natural environment.

Outdoor recreation and outdoor leisure activities could include gardening, walking, animal watching, hunting, adventure activities, and so on.

The desire to spend one's time engaged in outdoor recreation and leisure activities for pleasure could well have its roots in psycho-evolutionary theory.  Since humans evolved in close connection with nature, there is probably a deep genetic disposition to spending time in natural environments.  Even though modern Western human beings live largely in comfortable, artificial environments, they still nevertheless value natural places and often holiday or retire to more natural places.

There may be other desires for participation in outdoor activities, such as for education, personal development, healing, or for employment/survival (see Purposes of Outdoor Education), but by and large such participation in the Western world is voluntary and driven by personal values and goals for pleasure/reward.

Relevant theoretical and research literature emerges from several disciplines, including studies of outdoor recreation, leisure, parks management, and outdoor education.  Probably the most developed of these fields is leisure studies.

Links - Outdoor Recreation Research (ranked)

  1. Outdoor Recreation Research
    (Yu-Fai Leung, National Resources Information Pages)
  2. Dr. Peter Witt's Homepage
  3. Dr. John Crompton's Homepage
  4. >Dr. Jason Bocarro's Homepage
  5. Research: Recreation & Park Management
    (Indiana University)


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Curry, N. (1999). Community participation in outdoor recreation and the development of Millennium Greens in England. Leisure Studies, 19, 17-135. http://matilde.ingentaselect.com/

Northeastern Recreation Resource Conference - Past Proceedings