Adventure Based Wellbeing – what is the Traveller Effect?

OPINION PIECE

By Rod Quintrell

This article originally appeared in The View Magazine, official industry magazine of the South Australian Tourism Industry Council (TiCSA), formerly South Australian Tourism Industry Council (SATIC).

After presenting a workshop during the SA Tourism Conference I began to reflect on what benefits adventure based experiences can bring. This article is an attempt to explore the positive effects on psychological wellbeing of adventure based experiences.

Adventure based experiences are novel activities with hands on engagement, ideally in a group setting. Essentially the focus of these experiences is “learning by doing” – a fundamental tenant of Adventure Based Learning, which, in essence is a form of experiential education. Traditionally this also includes elements of physical engagement in a nature based setting, but does not necessarily need these components.

Two things can happen when we engage in new or novel experiences. Firstly – the working memory part of your pre frontal cortex needs to be engaged to learn and secondly, by default, your existing patterns of behaviour are temporarily changed to deal with these new experiences.

This leads to an internal phenomenon most people can relate with – what I call the traveller effect. When you return home from an epic adventure and there is that short lived period of ‘upbeatness’ and openness to change.

Some answers may lie within the science of Positive Psychology, a blend of humanistic and cognitive behavioural theories. It’s founder, Martin Seligman, suggests we need five ingredients for psychological wellbeing… Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment.

Adventure tourism, or that epic Heysen Trail trek you just returned from, contains many of these ingredients in varied ways.

Does the immediacy of Adventure Tourism make it the ultimate form of mindfulness?  Experience engagement or flow is all about here and now – you cannot experience flow without being in the moment. Meaning can be about understanding the value of things being in the journey, not the destination.  Accomplishment in this context can be satisfaction or perhaps trail completion.

When I first entered into the outdoor recreation / adventure tourism space I had clear vision of the potential physical and mental health benefits of extended time in nature with a small group of people, trained and equipped to deal with the chosen activity. I personally experienced, and have been privileged to witness, significant lasting personal change through adventure travel and it’s resultant effects on self.

This leads me into understanding that the science backed benefits can be split into three areas:

  1. Time in Nature – Studies have continually shown the varied health benefits. A 2016 article in Nature suggests the next big global heath issue is urbanisation, and experiences in nature produced physical, mental and social health improvements.
  2. The benefits of diet and exercise on our wellbeing are varied and well documented. From understanding that exercise is seen as a treatment option for depression to exploring the role food has on mood, the evidence is in – healthy body – healthy mind.
  3. The benefits of novelty engagement – “learning by doing” – a fundamental element of Adventure Based Learning, a form of Experiential Education. The evidence suggests the learning is far likelier to be retained if engaged. The benefits of mindful engagement are well accepted in heath literature.

Beyond Blue estimates three million Australians are currently living with Anxiety or Depression. In 2016, the cost to Australian taxpayers was, according to the Mental Health Commission, $60 BILLION Dollars, $4000 per taxpayer!

To me, adventure is a state of mind and is subjective to the individual, but adventure based learning and its societal wellbeing benefits are more objective. Perhaps if we all adopted an adventure holiday mindset in our day to day existing, and of course on our short breaks in South Australia, we all might experience the benefits.

Now…  where is my kayak….?

 

Bibliography:

South Australians walking for recreation and health. What would encourage them to walk more?

Walking along the River Torrens in AdelaideA recent RAA SA Active Transport survey confirmed that most people who walk do so for recreation (85%) or local trips (50%) with health/fitness (81%) and relaxation being their main motivations.

Respondents suggested that they might walk more if there were better quality footpaths (46%), lighting (35%) and pedestrian facilities along the route such as water fountains.

The most effective ways of securing safety were also footpath upgrades and lighting as well as clearing vegetation and separation from other road users that travel at higher speed.

The majority of respondents were supportive of government funding being redirected from road projects onto pedestrian infrastructure.

Call for a state-wide walking strategy

The Heart Foundation is calling for the SA State Government to develop and fund a state-wide walking strategy to increase the number of people walking in both metropolitan and regional areas.

A walking strategy would not only be good for health, but has numerous social, economic and environmental benefits. The Heart Foundation promotes the value of walkable environments across multiple Government portfolios.

What can you do? Keep walking. Write to your local council asking for better walking facilities. Write to the Health Minister asking for a walking strategy.

Walking SA supports this agenda, and will partner with the Heart Foundation to advocate and build support from our community.

Got an idea to inspire your community to get moving? $10,000 grants up for grabs.

Have you got a new idea that helps people to get active? Your idea might be the key to get your community on the move.

More than 50% of Australians miss out on the exercise they need. Regular physical activity helps to control other heart health risks, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and being overweight.

Got an idea to inspire your community to get moving? Share it with the Heart Foundation’s Active Australia Innovation Challenge. The Challenge is awarding 8 winning ideas with up to a $10,000 grant each. Current round closes 31 July.

Explore ideas and get inspiration from 2018’s grants. Find out more at heartfoundation.org.au/active-australia-innovation-challenge

The City of Marion adopts Walking and Cycling Guidelines

Planning for pedestrians is rare in South Australia.  Aided by funding from the State government, plenty of Councils have developed a bicycle plan, but few have done the same for walking – none in recent years.

So we welcome the City of Marion updating it’s 2012 Walking and Cycling Strategy with these Guidelines 2018-2022.

The Guidelines have been prepared by the consultants, Oxigen. Their adoption has not been without controversy, with broad-ranging calls for narrower streets and wider footpaths being rejected by Councillors.

Nevertheless there is enough in the adopted Guidelines in terms of safer road crossings, more street trees and “increasing footpath width where appropriate” to provide a source of support for residents wanting to improve the walkability of Marion’s suburbs.

The Guidelines make it obvious that much could be done, especially in the newer, hillier suburbs south of Darlington.  There, pedestrians suffer from bad street layouts that make distances from home to anywhere much more lengthy than they would be on the plain.  Here are two snapshots from the Guidelines contrasting the road layouts of Edwardstown and one of the newer suburbs, such as Sheidow Park or Trott Park:

Two snapshots from the Guidelines contrasting the road layouts of Edwardstown and one of the newer suburbs, such as Sheidow Park or Trott Park. In the latter, footpaths are typically on one side of the road often less than a metre wide, and even the reserves don’t have paths.

Two snapshots from the Guidelines contrasting the road layouts of Edwardstown and one of the newer suburbs, such as Sheidow Park or Trott Park. In the latter, footpaths are typically on one side of the road often less than a metre wide, and even the reserves don’t have paths.

Street trees are rare, as this aerial of Sheidow Park indicates:

Street trees are rare, as this aerial of Sheidow Park indicates.

Street trees are rare, as this aerial of Sheidow Park indicates.

While improving connectivity will be difficult, a lot can be done to improve walking conditions at street level.  Fortunately a new source of funding to do this should become available via the State Liberal Government’s Greening Neighbourhoods Program.

We have yet to see the details, but it is understood that funding from the Open Space Levy paid by developers will soon be available to help pay for the greening of suburban streets, including street trees and infrastructure such as treenet inlets.  These would act to keep the trees healthy, discourage tree routes from snaking under footpaths to suburban lawns (wrecking the pavement in the process), while at the same time helping to make our drains better able to cope with the flooding.

Left:- Tree roots at right angle to infrastructure: unsafe footpaths & damaged kerbs. Right:- Tree roots parallel to infrastructure: safe footpaths and undamaged kerbs.

Left:- Tree roots at right angle to infrastructure: unsafe footpaths & damaged kerbs. Right:- Tree roots parallel to infrastructure: safe footpaths and undamaged kerbs.

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference, 24 – 25 October 2019 at Port Adelaide

Australian Walking and Cycling Conference logo

The Australian Walking and Cycling Conference will be held Thursday and Friday 24 – 25 October 2019 at the Port Adelaide Town Hall with the theme Active transport in a changing climate.

The conference aspires to promote creating a transport mode shift away from cars towards walking and cycling, and using active means to link with improved public transport in suburbs and rural towns. We want to shift away from CO2 reliant mobility and keep people active as temperatures rise.

As the leading Australian forum for high-quality cycling and waking research, the Conference strongly contributes to an energetic and positive network of professionals dealing with local, national and international issues.

This is the only forum to have the core aims of advancing and promoting the development of rigorous research into cycling and walking.

To walk, or to run?

To walk, or to run? Turns out it doesn't matter, as long as your activity is aerobic - in that it raises your heart rate and gets you moving and sweating for a sustained period.

To walk, or to run?
In other words, if you’re looking to improve your health, is it better to commit to an occasional all-out sweat fest, or incorporate more walking and moving into your day?

A study suggests there’s an answer to this years-old conundrum: It doesn’t matter.

Research from the American Heart Association suggests that it doesn’t matter as long as your workouts fall into one category: aerobic exercise – defined as any movement that raises your heart rate and gets you moving and sweating for a sustained period.

Source:
Moderate‐to‐Vigorous Physical Activity and All‐Cause Mortality: Do Bouts Matter?
Published 22 Mar 2018, Journal of the American Heart Association. 2018;7:e007678

Looking for a way to build walking into your weekly schedule?

Parkrun have regular walks and runs each Saturday, social share

Are you looking for a way to build walking into your weekly schedule?

Don’t be put off by the name Parkrun, walkers are always welcome to join. They organise free, weekly, 5km timed walks or runs. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. These are set up as events usually in pleasant parklands surroundings and are run by a volunteer network.

With 32 Parkruns held each Saturday morning throughout South Australia, there’s bound to be one near you. Search for one nearby you via their map at parkrun.com.au/events, or review the list below.

Not one near you? There might be soon, Parkrun is spreading rapidly throughout South Australia, having added 12 new events in the first 9 months of this year, since starting their first one here in SA in 2012.

Throughout October we’re celebrating walking with #walktoberSA

Walking can transform your life, hear Bill’s story using walking to recover from a stroke

Walking can transform your life. Bill talks about how after suffering a stroke he felt pretty low, and to overcome how frustrated he felt he decided to start walking, at first doing small walks then slowly challenging himself to do more.

“Back then I felt pretty hopeless at walking, but now, the personal satisfaction cant be described really, it’s nature, the birds, the bees, the waterfalls, it’s freedom, it’s so beautiful. Everyday you see something that you don’t see the day before.”

Throughout October we’re celebrating walking with #walktoberSA

Transcript:

I suffered a stroke back in 2002, and for a long time I couldn’t walk and after about 12 months of that I got very frustrated, so I tried to have a go, and that’s why I started.

I was down on the beach, feeling pretty low, because I couldn’t walk properly, and I met a friend of mine, who I used to work with, who met me on the beach. He was doing a fitness walk, as people do, and he met me and wondered why I was stumbling. We got to talking and decided he would stay with me every day thereafter helping me to take another 10, 20 yards, climb these stairs, let’s not climb, let’s do another set, that’s just how it worked… and [I feel] very very lucky.

Walking now is almost a daily thing, I try and take one day off a week, I try and force myself to do that. Usually every day 7 or 8 k’s along the beach, and then once a week I try and get and up into the Hills or something and do 20 k 25 k hike.

The most challenging walk has probably been the Overland Trail in Tasmania. When I started hiking first my granddaughter joined me to help me hike, then my brother jumped in when she popped out and we both enjoyed it, so we decided to give the Overland Trail in Tasmania a go. Climbing up over Cradle Mountain and around the lake, and that was probably the most challenging, the rain, wind, you name it, we had it.

Back then I felt pretty hopeless at it, but now, the personal satisfaction cant be described really, it’s nature, the birds, the bees, the waterfalls, it’s freedom, it’s so beautiful. Everyday you see something that you don’t see the day before.

Way2Go Walktober – a chance to practice new habits and walk to school

way2goThe Government of South Australia’s Active School Travel program Way2Go is joining in Walktober SA by supporting more families and children to walk to school.

Way2Go Walktober, from October 15 to 31, is a chance to practice new habits. Walk to school with your children – just once a week will make a difference:

  • try once a week and build up
  • take turns with other families to walk with kids and make it fun
  • mix it up by riding a bike or scooter (You all can ride on the footpath)

Too far to walk the whole way? Park the car nearby and walk part of the way to school.

Read more tips, including about planning ahead and how to support your child at dpti.sa.gov.au/Way2Go/way2go_walktober

We know that using active travel to get to school is good for children’s physical health, as well as their growing brains, bones, muscles and imaginations!

Here at Walking SA we’re keen to see more children walking and cycling safely to school. View our Position Statement.

Throughout October we’re celebrating walking with WalktoberSA.

Keeping active can help you stay physically fit and mentally healthy

Shared via Beyond Blue:

Regular physical activity is a good way to help prevent or manage mild anxiety and depression. Keeping active can help you stay physically fit and mentally healthy.

Research shows that keeping active can:

  • help lift mood through improved fitness and the release of natural chemicals in the brain
  • help improve sleeping patterns
  • increase energy levels
  • help block negative thoughts and/or distract people from daily worries
  • help people feel less alone if they exercise with others.

Physical activity increases your wellbeing. The current recommendation is at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week. However, people with anxiety or depression may find it difficult to get started or get motivated, or continue to exercise on a long-term basis.

View Beyond Blue’s:

  • tips to get started,
  • examples of activities,
  • or download their Activity Plan template.

beyondblue.org.au/get-support/staying-well/keeping-active

Throughout October we’re celebrating walking with #walktoberSA

Hiking with children: how walking as a child led to being an active adult

Story via the Friends of the Heysen Trail.

Amelia writes of her family’s tradition of walking the Heysen Trail as a child – she was very much reluctant to do this, preferring to read books and make craft – and how by the time she was in high school she had well and truly caught the activity bug and to this day is still an active walker.

Last year she started walking the Heysen Trail as a family again, but this time with her own children. The great thing about the Heysen Trail is you don’t need to try and tackle it all at once, and can do short walks closer to Adelaide.

She asked her eight-year-old son his thoughts on the walks they’d done so far:

‘One of my favourite sections was the boggy bits. The others squelched into the mud probably because you’re bigger. But me, I got through easier and was dancing around waiting at the end of the bog.’

‘I liked the green and the tweeting of the birds. I liked going over the fields in the sunshine. I loved looking at the old mines with their deep, dark holes. I liked the feeling of the grass rustling against my leg because it was so long. I loved going through the valleys and hearing the echoes of our voices, cooo-eeee.’

Read the full article on the Friends of the Heysen Trail website.

Walking can transform lives: psychologist Kylie Agnew on the benefits of walking for mental health

Walking transforms lives. Psychologist Kylie Agnew talks about her work with Operation Flinders using adventure activities for therapeutic populations. She saw people experience positive transformation through walking.

“Some of the changes I’ve seen in people have been huge, with the young people I’ve worked with, both on Operation Flinders and in other programs, seeing them change from the start to the finish of the eight days out in the wilderness. It’s been really inspirational. I was lucky enough to travel the world to see how some of these programs run in all different remote parts of the world. There’s a lot of people using walking to help people all around the world.”

Throughout October we’re celebrating walking with #walktoberSA

Transcript:

The World Health Organization recommends that we all walk everyday. I think we should be doing as much walking as possible, obviously within our busy lives, but making time to walk everyday is going to be important, but also building walking into our lives so that we all can benefit from walking, whether it’s physical and emotional or psychological benefit.

There’s a lot of different research that’s been done on why walking is good for mental health. Some of it’s been based obviously on the physical side, having general health, meaning that you’re going to be healthier mentally, but there’s also a lot of research to show that serotonin and different hormones are released when we walk and when we exercise, and then I guess we’ve also got that relationship building which is obviously another protective factor for mental health, building friendships, building relationships by spending time together.

For me personally, I just love being in the outdoors. It’s been a passion of mine since I grew up on a farm, and also going to university and studying adventure activities then moving into using adventure activities for therapeutic populations.

Some of the changes I’ve seen in people have been huge, with the young people I’ve worked with, both on Operation Flinders and in other programs, seeing them change from the start to the finish of the eight days out in the wilderness. It’s been really inspirational. I was lucky enough to travel the world to see how some of these programs run in all different remote parts of the world. There’s a lot of people using walking to help people all around the world.

Living a healthy lifestyle through joining a walking group and good nutrition: one man’s story of life with diabetes and rehabilitation

Glenn with his local Heart Foundation Walking group

Glenn with his local Heart Foundation Walking group

A great story of transformation through walking from Heart Foundation Walking:

Glenn McLennan was diagnosed with Diabetes in 2010 and by 2011 had his first operation on a foot. Unfortunately, complications set in in 2016 and by January 2017 both lower limbs were amputated.

12 months ago he joined his local Heart Foundation Walking group.

Walk Organiser Alison Gentles said, “He liked what he saw – a happy, friendly group and the flat surface because we walk at the shopping centre,” said Alison.

Glenn enjoys the social side of the group with the coffee catch up after the walk. With the support of the walking group, specialists and his local community; Glenn has a positive outlook and is committed to living a healthy lifestyle through walking and good nutrition. Glenn hopes his story will send a positive message to the younger generation about the importance of regular exercise and healthy eating.

Join a Heart Foundation Walking group to take positive steps to help reduce stress, have a healthier body, build stronger relationships, and most of all, be happy. With 128 groups across South Australia there’s sure to be one close to you.

Throughout October we’re celebrating walking with #walktoberSA

Article via Heart Foundation.

Want to improve your mental health? Go for a walk.

Want to improve your mental health? Go for a walk. People who exercise have 43% fewer days of poor mental health.

Want to improve your mental health?
Go for a walk.

People who exercise have 43% fewer days of poor mental health.

It’s a common piece of advice: that exercise is pretty good for your mental health. A huge study published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry has found that literally just walking can improve your mental health.

Individuals who exercised had 43% fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise. All exercise types were associated with a lower mental health burden (between 11.8% and 22%).

The study of 1.2m people appeared in the Lancet Journal on August 8th 2018.