Will my Child be Healthy While in a Wilderness Program?

A major concern with wilderness therapy programming is balancing a healthy diet with the appropriate level of physical activity. Through research using body mass index (BMI) and body composition data RedCliff has been able to find a healthy balance of diet and exercise based off a student’s individual physical needs.

Using 10 years of BMI and body composition data on over 2000 participants RedCliff has been able to show that a health balance of diet and exercise can occur. RedCliff has found that:

Students at RedCliff Ascent move towards a healthy BMI and body composition, regardless of their initial BMI and body composition.

  • Underweight participants on average gain weight.
    • Males gain 7 lbs.
    • Females gain 9.4 lbs.
  • Participants within the normal range of BMI stay about the same.
    • Males lose 0.7 lbs.
    • Females gain 2.6 lbs.
  • Overweight participants lose weight on average.
    • Males lose 12.5 lbs.
    • Females lose 7 lbs.
  • Obese participants on average lose weight.
    • Males lose 37.7 lbs.
    • Females lose 30 lbs.
  • On average kids in wilderness therapy lose fat mass while gaining lean or muscle mass.


Wilderness healthy weight BMI
Male weight BMI chart
Female weight wilderness BMI

Research Overview

Hike 2

Does Wilderness Work?


Is Wilderness Safe?


What About Health?


Current Research


Risk Management

Session 2

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare