How engaging with nature can facilitate active healthy ageing

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Ageing populations call for ways of facilitating active healthy ageing. Engagements with nature can positively affect well-being and healthy ageing, but challenges remain to move beyond framing ageing as inevitable, gradual decline and disengagement, towards active and healthy engagements with nature. So far, little attention has been paid to how different ways of being in and relating to nature can facilitate active healthy ageing. Through go-alongs and interventions in the Danish Wadden Sea National Park, we explore how and why older adults relate to nature. Drawing on Heidegger’s (1927/1962) notion of ‘Dasein’ and theories of therapeutic mobilities, we discuss how older adults engage in nature, with nature, or become through nature. By re-framing these variations of engagement, the theoretical contribution represents different archetypes of engagement with nature, where active healthy ageing transpires through therapeutic mobilities that enable complex fields of relations with others and nature. For nature to contribute to active and healthy ageing requires a fundamental shift from understanding nature as static and other-to-man to evanescent versions of individuals’ subjective being. The latter acknowledges the embeddedness of walking, emotional geographies and therapeutic landscapes. Recognising that ‘nature is not just nature’ points to the insufficiency of merely promoting walking or offering access to being in nature. Instead, active healthy ageing with nature becomes a matter of setting the enabling conditions for a population of highly heterogeneous older adults to continuously engage with nature in ways that facilitate transformative experiences.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTourism Geographies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1. Dec 2020


  • Nature
  • experiences
  • healthy ageing
  • older adults
  • therapeutic mobilities
  • walking


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