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The benefit of outdoor sport for society

A multi-disciplinary approach to studying and measuring the value of outdoor recreation

Hikers in a mountainous landscape

Over recent years there has been a growth in participation in outdoor recreation. This growth has escalated during 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. More people than ever before are getting outdoors – for family enjoyment, for health and wellbeing, for something to do, for fresh air and to connect with nature. 

Sheffield Hallam's Outdoor Recreation Research Group (ORRG) brings together multi-disciplinary academics to provide research services across wide ranging areas to support this sector. As part of ORRG's work in the outdoor sector, a major European collaborative project was launched in 2016 to measure the economic value of the outdoor sport sector.

The challenge

Generating an increased understanding outdoor recreation can positively contribute to a range of key government agendas. Increasing participation in outdoor activity can help to improve public health, including mental health and wellbeing, reducing rates of obesity and improved quality of life. There are educational benefits and a wide range of social benefits that can occur as a result of getting active outdoors.

The method

In 2016 the European Network for Outdoor Sport (ENOS) was awarded Erasmus+ sport funding to develop a system for measuring the economic value of outdoor sport (Benefits of Outdoor Sport for Society, or BOSS). 

This was a collaborative project with 12 partners from eight nations, and SHU were a major partner and work package lead. Over three years, the project achieved: 

  • a review of the evidence base for outdoor sport,
  • the creation of a system and toolkit for measuring value, and 
  • a series of 12 case studies to test and showcase the method.

The impact

There is now a strengthened evidence base on the benefits of outdoor sport, along with a model and resources to support the use of this which allow organisations and practitioners to make the case for outdoor sport and demonstrate the value of this approach.

See BOSS website for further information.

Funding partners


About this project

Explore the people, research centres and partner organisations behind this project.

Get in touch

Contact SPARC to discuss facilities, partnerships, doctoral research and more

Contact us

Research team

Larissa Davies stood posing for a photo

Dr Larissa Davies

Reader in Sport Management

Larissa Davies' profile
Girish Ramchandani

Dr Girish Ramchandani

Associate Professor of Sport Management

Girish Ramchandani's profile
Maxine Gregory 122943

Maxine Gregory

Senior Research Fellow

Maxine Gregory's profile
Lizzie Christy 27737

Elizabeth Christy

Research Assistant

Elizabeth Christy's profile
Kerry Griffiths 504370

Dr Kerry Griffiths

Research Fellow

Dr Kerry Griffiths's profile

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