During my last 8 years in the education industry the number of students that have been actively engaged in outdoor activities has declined. It is also a concern that time spent on sedentary activities have risen, leading to health problems in the population (Lou, D. 2014). Not only is sedentary behaviour affecting our health, but our country’s economic well being and the financial sustainability of our health care system (Bounajm, Dinh, & Theriault, 2014). While improved physical health is a very tangible and seemingly obvious benefit of outdoor activities, psychological health including stress reduction, improved concentration, and a more creative individual are also evident in children who spend more time in the outdoors (Novotney, A., 2008). With the growing urgency to improve youth activity levels and the percentage of time schools demand of students’ daily waking hours an important question arises: How do school systems increase student engagement in the outdoor environment?

A study by Sandra Hofferth (as cited in Novotney, 2008) showed that children ages 9-12 participated 50% less in outdoor activities from 1997-2003. Students are definitely moving in the opposite direction. A starting point for schools might be in the area of Adventure Learning. This are of education exposes students to individuals or groups actively engaging with the outdoors, coupled with interesting curriculum activities that support learning in the classroom. Can this educational technique actually increase student interest in outdoor activities? It may be a good first step in a continuum of learning experiences which in combination may begin a students’ excitement over the environment. What would this continuum look like? Here is a working example:

Get Outside FrameworkClick for larger image.

 

I will begin to look at each of these areas in more detail to develop a more detailed model based in research that teachers can easily implement at any stage where they find students in class.

Lou, D. (2014) Sedentary Behaviors and Youth: Current Trends and the Impact on Health. San Diego, CA: Active Living Research. http://activelivingresearch.org/sites/default/files/ALR_Brief_SedentaryBehaviors_Jan2014_0.pdf

Novotney, A. (2008) Getting back to the great outdoors. Monitor on Psychology. 39(3) pg52.

Bounajm, F., Dinh, T., & Theriault, L. (2014) Moving ahead: The economic impact of reducing physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour. The Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care. http://www.conferenceboard.ca/press/newsrelease/14-10-23/moving_a_little_more_goes_a_long_way_report_finds.aspx

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