Places for active outdoor recreation – a scoping review

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The paper reports on a scoping literature review aiming to provide an overview of existing research on the significance of natural environments to active outdoor recreation. The study brings together research from two research areas, and the perspective is both of conceptual and summative character. The paper presents key research contributions that illuminate research, and provides an overview of research traditions in the field. A total of 51 studies are included in the literature study, and are organised by setting: 1) natural settings (forests), 2) semi-natural settings (parks) and 3) infrastructure related settings (trails and paths). Most of the studies have a quantitative design. Almost all studies are cross-sectional studies, and present snapshots of the significance of natural environments to active outdoor recreation. The majority of the studies have a health perspective with measures of physical activity in general. Conclusions are that some knowledge exits on the impact and significance of natural environments and places to people's active outdoor recreation, which can be useful to managers and administrators of natural environments as well as to the health sector. Natural environments generally seem to have great impact on people's physical activity. People seek and get various experiences from being active in natural environments and have rather different preferences to the natural settings. This may lead to the conclusion that it is relevant to apply an activity- and context-specific perspective at interventions in natural environments. Limitations of the study and future research is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
Pages (from-to)25-46
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Environment
  • Facilities
  • Forests
  • Health
  • Literature review
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Parks
  • Setting
  • Trails


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