Professor of the Practice of Law University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Wilderness & Wellness

Getting through the colder months of the fall and winter, during the pandemic, might be eased if you can visit a wilderness area with a loved one.

A recent study examined why people value natural settings.  To experience leisure, we require perceived freedom and intrinsic motivation, according to social psychologists.  The U.S. National Park Service reports that 327,516,619 visits were made to its over 400 parks in 2019.  In this study, data was collected from 795 adult participants who had visited a wilderness area in the Southern Appalachian Region.

Researchers discovered that we form attachments to natural landscapes because they support the psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.  Being in the wilderness allows us to choose to engage in challenging mental and physical activities with significant others.  Satisfaction of these needs promotes mental and physical wellness.

Takeaway: Time spent in nature, and especially in the wilderness, can enhance physical and mental well-being.  Organize the gear and plan that hike, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, camping, or fishing trip.

Sources

Adam C. Landon, Kyle M. Woosnam, Gerard T. Kyle, and Samuel J. Keith, Psychological Needs Satisfaction and Attachment to Natural Landscapes, Environment and Behavior, May 2020, doi:10.1177/0013916520916255.

National Park Service, Visitation Numbers, https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/visitation-numbers.htm.

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