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Outdoor adventure and successful ageing

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 April 2012

School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
Address for correspondence: Mike Boyes, School of Physical Education, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. E-mail:


This article explores how outdoor adventure activities in a New Zealand community-based programme are experienced and understood as successful ageing strategies. Outdoor adventures are seen as positive leisure experiences that include challenging physical activity, social engagement and the natural environment. Using a sequential exploratory mixed-methods design, a combination of seven interviews and a survey (N=80) were conducted with a Third Age adventures group. The research outcomes confirmed the attraction of adventure for this cohort. Risk engagement and uncertainty were perceived as less important in favour of emotional, social and environmental engagement through fun, excitement and pleasure. The natural environment was considered integral and defining of the experience with the participants demonstrating a strong environmental ethos. Opportunities for building social capital were plentiful and well illustrated. The benefits of engagement for health, wellbeing and successful ageing are identified through the physical, social and psychological domains. The research supports adventure participation as a successful ageing strategy that is relatively low cost, community based, has many preventative health benefits, builds communities and embraces the environment.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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