Phenomenological study of the relationship between a 10-day residential outdoor education experience and patterns of physical activity in adult life
Telford, John Andrew
This dissertation investigates the meanings and values that a group of adults aged between 30 and 31 years attribute to a 10-day residential outdoor education experience that took place 17 years ago. The dissertation specifically investigates whether the participants consider that the experience has had any influence on their current patterns of physical activity. Research shows that levels of sedentarism and inactivity amongst the population of the United Kingdom are rising. This is causing concern in Government regarding the impact of this lack of physical activity on the health of individuals, the cost to the National Health Service, and the maintaining of a healthy working population. A review of the literature relating to the role of outdoor education as a means of encouraging physical activity reveals a strong historical connection between outdoor education and physical health in the UK. However, the literature is primarily rhetorical and theoretical in nature and illustrates an absence of complementary empirical work. A phenomenological methodology informed both data collection and analysis. Data were gathered using semi-structured interviews. The results demonstrate that the residential outdoor experience was a very positive experience for the interviewees. The experience was most significant in terms of personal and social development. In terms of the impact of the experience on physical activity patterns in adult life the results demonstrate a relationship which is limited but worthy of further investigation.