Abstract: Outdoor Recreational Habits of College Students: A Case Study

Outdoor recreation has been linked to decreased stress levels and for college students, in particular, positive recreational experiences have been shown to benefit retention rates, alter recreational habits after graduation, and build community. Still, surprisingly little is known about the outdoor activities that college students participate in and reasons why they do so, and thus this study aimed to understand the recreational habits of students at Malone University. In November 2019, we surveyed 236 Malone undergraduates and asked them how often they went outside, how they spent their time outside, who they spent time outside with, and how far they traveled to recreate outdoors. Our results indicated that Malone students were generally active outdoors, with 69% of students reporting that they recreated outside at least once per week. Demographic variables including gender, resident or commuter status, class ranking, being a traditional or non-traditional student, and major, explained variation in responses. One particularly noteworthy finding was that freshman, commuters, and non-traditional students spent more time outside by themselves whereas other groups spent more time with significant others or friends. Understanding our survey results could provide direction to universities for improving outdoor recreational opportunities for students as they attempt to holistically care for students and promote wellness.