Outdoor recreation

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Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity is leisure pursuits engaged in the outdoors, often in natural or semi-natural settings out of town. Examples include adventure racing, backpacking, cycling, camping, canoeing, canyoning, caving, discgolf, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, mountaineering, photography, adventure park, rock climbing, running, sailing, skiing, surfing and sports. Outdoor recreation may also refer to a team sport game or practice held in an outdoor setting.

The two primary purposes for outdoor recreation are beneficial use and pleasurable appreciation.[1][2]

Beneficial use is related to the physical and social rewards that goal-directed activity instills in individuals or groups. Some outdoor goal-directed activities are: backpacking, canoeing, canyoning, caving, climbing, hiking, hill walking, hunting, kayaking, and rafting. Arguably broader groupings of goal-directed outdoor activities would include water sports, snow sports, and horseback riding. Goal-directed outdoor activities are predominately physical, though they may also be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually rewarding. The outdoors as a physical or social setting may meet the needs of physical health, self-sufficiency, risk-taking, the building of social ties (including teambuilding), and the needs of achievement (such as practicing, enhancing and challenging skills, testing stamina and endurance, and seeking adventure or excitement). The outdoors can be an environment in which people "show what they can do".[2]

Pleasurable appreciation encourages experiences of being "let in on nature's show".[2] Enhancement of inner perceptual and/or spiritual life may be experienced through outdoor activities and outdoor-related activities such as nature study, aesthetic contemplation, meditation, painting, photography, archeological or historical research, and indigenous culture among others. These activities may also be physically rewarding.

Many people in modern civilizations believe that the value of nature is found only in its "utilitarian value" (beneficial use). They would discount the inner perceptual and/or spiritual benefits of the "intrinsic value of nature" that may be experienced during pleasurable appreciation.

Outdoor activities may also be pursued for the purposes of finding peace in nature, enjoying life, and relaxing. They are alternatives to expensive forms of tourism. Outdoor activities are also frequently used as a medium in education and teambuilding.

Types of outdoor recreational activities[edit]





Beach & Sea


Fresh Water








Cultural & Historical


Trekking Wildlife safari Snorkeling Angling/Fly fishing Gliding Camel safari Amusement park Indigenous culture
Rock climbing Camping Scuba diving Canyoning Ballooning Desert Jeep safari Safari park
Mountain biking Birdwatching Parasailing Whitewater rafting Flying Off-leash dog park Metal detecting
Motorbike expedition Elephant safari Sport fishing Water sports Bungee jumping Benchmarking (geolocating)
Skiing Tree climbing Windsurfing Kayaking Picnicking Sightseeing
Snowboarding Adventure park Water sports Canoeing Corn maze
Snowshoeing Mushroom hunting Clam digging
Ice climbing Orienteering Running (on beach)
Mountain climbing Swimming


Trekkers in Gorbea park, south of Biscay in Basque Country, Spain

Trekking is all about enjoying a great walking holiday. Treks can be day hikes, overnight or extended hikes. An example of a day trek is hiking during the day and returning at night to a lodge for a hot meal and a comfortable bed. Trekking can be more enjoyable when undertaken while being generally physically fit. Physical preparation for trekking includes cycling, swimming, jogging and long walks.

Mountain biking[edit]

Mountain biker in Levin, New Zealand

Mountain biking is all about steering a mountain cycle over rocky tracks and around boulder-strewn paths. To tackle the trails, the requirements are physical strength, stamina and a strong mountain cycle. Mountain bikes or ATBs (all-terrain bikes) feature a frame and fork that are rugged. Their frames are often built of aluminum so they are lightweight and stiff, making them efficient to ride.


Canyoning is an activity which involves climbing, descending, jumping and trekking through canyons. The sport originates from caving and involves both caving and climbing techniques.

See also[edit]

Specific outdoor activities[edit]


  1. ^ Rolston, H III (1985). "Valuing wildlands". Env. Ethics 7 (1): 23–48. 
  2. ^ a b c Rolston, H III. (1988). Environmental ethics: Duties to and values in the natural world. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. ISBN 0877226288