Wellbeing and nature connectedness for emerging adult undergraduates after a short expedition: A small pilot study
Health Promotion Journal of Australia
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Exercise Medicine Research Institute
Issue addressed: Emerging adult university undergraduates are a vulnerable population due to various life stressors. Previous studies have reported a range of positive outcomes from outdoor expeditions for this population. This small pilot study aimed to investigate the impacts of an outdoor expedition on wellbeing and connectedness to nature and possible confounding by gender and living environment. Methods: A sample of 54 Health and Physical Education emerging adult undergraduates in the second year of their four-year degree completed a 3-day/2-night immersion expedition. Pre–post differences and a repeated-measures analysis with confounders examined the expedition's impact on scores from the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale and Connectedness to Nature Scale. Results: Involvement in a short expedition resulted in improvements to wellbeing and connectedness to nature. Females reported a stronger connectedness to nature than males, while living environments may affect well-being. Conclusions/So what?: Incorporating regular contact with nature into the structure of undergraduate programs may improve wellbeing and protect this population's mental and emotional health. In a world adjusting to the effects of a global pandemic, opportunities for teaching in non-traditional classrooms (such as outdoors) may also protect physical health.