College Students’ Outdoor Exercise Patterns

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  • Title: College Students’ Outdoor Exercise Patterns: Perceived Benefits, Barriers, and Experiences
  • Author(s): Andrea Ednie
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Tourism and Leisure Studies
  • Journal Title: Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies
  • Keywords: Outdoor Exercise, Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire, Outdoor Exercise Benefits, Outdoor Exercise Barriers
  • Volume: 2
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2470-9336 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2470-9344 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Ednie, Andrea . 2017. "College Students’ Outdoor Exercise Patterns: Perceived Benefits, Barriers, and Experiences." Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies 2 (2): 21-33. doi:10.18848/2470-9336/CGP/v02i02/21-33.
  • Extent: 13 pages


Previous studies have documented health and psychological benefits associated with exercise in the outdoors. However, questions still exist about the perceived benefits of and commitment to outdoor exercise throughout the seasons in a northern climate, and little is known about the outdoor exercise patterns and experiences of the college student demographic. A survey was conducted with undergraduate students (N = 502) in order to assess the year-round patterns and perceived benefits, barriers, and experiences they associate with outdoor exercise. Cluster analysis was used to group participants according to indoor/outdoor exercise patterns, and the groups’ perceived benefits, barriers, and outdoor exercise experiences were compared using ANOVA and Tukey HSD tests. The three identified indoor/outdoor exercise groups (year-round outdoor, seasonal outdoor, and indoor) differed in exercise patterns where the year-round outdoor group yielded greater total exercise scores as compared with the other groups. Participants in all three groups believed there were benefits to outdoor over indoor exercise, and the groups did not differ in terms of what those benefits were. The year-round outdoor group was less affected by certain outdoor exercise barriers and rated environmental experience items such as comfort, interest in trying new activities, and connection to the natural environment higher than the indoor group. Areas for further research were noted including identifying when (i.e., with how much experience) outdoor exercise becomes perceptually easier and what types and quantities of outdoor exercise foster a sense of empowerment that is motivating for healthy outdoor and total exercise patterns. Suggestions for college outdoor fitness facilities and programs were also discussed.