“Where Nature and Culture Coalesce: The Social, Cultural and Political Impact of Outdoor Recreation in Sheffield”
Dr. Jim Cherrington and Dr. Maxine Gregory
In Lifestyle Sports and Public Policy, edited by Daniel Turner and Sandro Carnicelli
In this chapter we explore the social and cultural significance of outdoor activities in Sheffield’s emerging municipal spaces, whilst addressing the political consequences that such analyses may have on the promotion of physical activity. Following a review of the literature, we advocate a move beyond economic narratives towards a more holistic analysis of outdoor recreation that considers the complex interplay between sports, landscapes, people and places (Palmer, 2010). Utilising data from an online survey with over 2000 respondents, we then elucidate three key findings: (1) that participation in outdoor activities carry spiritual/life affirming qualities (2) that such feelings are accentuated by the participant’s relationship with nature (3) that both feelings of spirituality and a positive relationship with nature can contribute to physical and mental wellbeing that extends beyond the activity itself. This evidence contributes to a more rounded assessment of the ‘value’ of outdoor recreation which takes into account a broader range of social indicators beyond those which are more easily monetised (Marques et al., 2015). To conclude, we consider the policy implications that emerge from this discussion in relation to health promotion in Sheffield. More specifically, we evaluate the potential contributions that outdoor recreation could make to the ‘Move More Plan’ (2013), a city wide initiative which aims to improve the health of its residents through regular physical activity, as well as the practical challenges that may arise in implementing these.