Understanding the Relationship Between Nature and Physical Activity in Older Adolescent Girls: A Scoping Review


  • Cynthia MacDonald Dalhousie University
  • Kathryn Stone Dalhousie University
  • Rebecca Spencer Dalhousie University




Adolescent girls, Physical activity, Nature


Adolescent girls are subjected to gender norms and stereotypes regarding their health and well-being. Research has indicated that women and girls are exposed to unrealistic and unattainable body ideals that affect their relationship with physical activity (PA). In addition, despite suggestions that nature is important for health and well-being, women and girls experience barriers in accessing and connecting with nature due to gender expectations and stereotypes. The purpose of this review is to determine what is known from the existing literature about older adolescent girls‘ relationship with nature and PA. This scoping review follows the framework of Arksey and O‘Malley. In total, 39 studies were reviewed, and their characteristics were summarized quantitatively and qualitatively. Five themes were identified: (a) Active transportation provides an opportunity for girls to connect PA with nature, (b) Adolescent girls‘ navigation of gender norms and barriers while connecting with PA and nature, (c) Perceived safety influences adolescent girls‘ relationship with PA and nature, (d) Infrastructure and aesthetics can impact adolescent girls‘ connection between PA and nature, and (e) The relationship between PA and nature intersects with girls‘ mental well-being. Gaps in the literature are identified and discussed. It is concluded that older adolescent girls‘ relationship with nature and PA is influenced by gender norms and perceptions of aspects of their environment, such as safety and aesthetics.

Author Biographies

Cynthia MacDonald, Dalhousie University

MA Health Promotion CandidateSchool of Health & Human Performance

Kathryn Stone, Dalhousie University

MA Health Promotion School of Health & Human Performance

Rebecca Spencer, Dalhousie University

Senior Instructor, Health Promotion

School of Health & Human Performance


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