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Sensing the outdoors: a visual and haptic phenomenology of outdoor exercise embodiment

Sensing the outdoors: a visual and haptic phenomenology of outdoor exercise embodiment

Jacquelyn Allen-Collinsona* & Aspasia Leledakib
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In recent years, there has been a burgeoning of academic interest in exercise embodiment issues, including a developing field of phenomenologically inspired analyses of the lived body experience of physical activity and exercise. Calls have been made for researchers to explore the sensory dimension of such embodiment, and a corpus of sensory ethnographic studies is now beginning to grow, focusing on the ways in which people engage in ‘making sense of the senses’ within a sociocultural framework. This article contributes to a developing body of phenomenological-sociological empirical work on the sensory dimension, by addressing the lived experience of organised physical activities in ‘natural’ outdoor leisure environments. We draw upon the findings from a two-year ethnographic study of a Welsh national physical activity programme, ‘Mentro Allan/Venture Out’, which aimed to increase physical activity levels amongst specific ‘target groups’. Based on fieldwork and on interviews (n = 68) with Programme participants, here our analytic focus is upon the visual and the haptic dimensions of sensory engagement with organised outdoor leisure activities, including experiences of ‘intense embodiment’.


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  • Received: 3 Feb 2014
  • Accepted: 7 May 2014
  • Published online: 06 Jun 2014

Author affiliations

  • a Health Advancement Research Team, School of Sport & Exercise Science, University of Lincoln, Lincoln LN6 7TS, UK
  • b Independent Researcher, Exeter, England

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