Study of Veterans Finds Links Between Outdoor Activities, Improved Mental Health

Veterans participating in extended outdoor group recreation show signs of improved mental health, suggesting a link between the activities and long-term psychological well-being, according to results of a new University of Michigan study.

98 veterans were surveyed before and after a multi-day wilderness recreation experience, which involved camping and hiking in groups of between six and 12 participants. More than half of participants reported that they frequently experienced physical or mental health problems in everyday life.

One week after the experience, veterans reported a greater than 10 percent improvement in several measures of psychological well-being, a 9 percent increase in social functioning, and a nearly 8 percent gain in positive life outlook. In some cases, the results persisted over the next month.

The Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization, operates the Military Family and Veterans Initiative, which focuses on providing military service members and their families with access to outdoor experiences.

Population of focus: Veterans

Links to resource:

Date: 2013

Organization: Sierra Club