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The great outdoors provide a place to rest, exercise, bond with family and reconnect with nature. Recreation remains a key part of lifestyle with strong outdoor participation among our youth. More young people got up and got outside. These trends reflect a greater emphasis and investment by the outdoor community in programs that reconnect youth and nature. But there is much more to do if we are to reverse the nature deficient disorder among todays youngest generation. We must continue working together to engage our children in the outdoors. We can understand what motivates people and begin to rebuild a strong bond between our young people and the outdoors.


A participant in outdoor recreation is defined as an individual who took part in any outdoor activity.
Outdoor activities can include adventure racing, backpacking, bicycling, birdwatching, boardsailing/windsurfing, car or backyard camping, RV camping, canoeing, climbing, kayaking, rafting, running/jogging, sailing, scuba diving, skateboarding, skiing, snorkeling, snowboarding, stand up paddling, surfing, and trail running. Just to name a few.

Participation in Outdoor Activities

Statiscally, the participation rate in outdoor recreation varies among different age groups, as individuals age their lives are shaped by their environment and life experiences. Among children, outdoor activities are popular, but outdoor participation drops during adolescence and young adulthood.

Participation rates climb back up slightly for females in their early 20's before gradually declining throughout life. Male participation bumps up during the early 30's and then also begins a slow decline.

On average, indoor fitness becomes more popular than outdoor activities among young women ages 16 to 20 and remains the most popular form of activity for the rest of their lives. Men, on the other hand, prefer outdoor activities until they reach the age of 66 and older.
Team sports are the second most popular activity during childhood for both men and women, but that popularity declines sharply and continues to fall throughout the rest of life.

    Based on the average person

  1. Free weights, barbells, dumbells and hand weights, 22% of people use these on average.
  2. Treadmill 18% of people use this on average.
  3. Weight/resistance machines 14% of people use this type on average.
  4. Stationary cycling (upright bikes and recumbent bikes) 13% of people use this type on average.
  5. Stretching 12% of people do this on average.

    Most popular indoor activities

  1. Running, jogging and trail running 18% of people do this on average.
  2. Biking, 15% of people do this on average.
  3. Backyard and RV camping 15% of people do this on average.
  4. Hiking 11% of people do this on average.

    Most popular outdoor activities

  1. Basketball 9% of people play this on average.
  2. Football 6% of people play this on average.
  3. Soccer 6% of people play this on average.
  4. Baseball 5% of people play this on average.
  5. Volleyball 5% of people play this on average.
  6. Hockey 1.64% of people play this on average.

Most popular team sports

Outdoor participants rate their health level 15% higher on average than non-participants.
The majority of people agree that preserving undeveloped land for outdoor recreation is important, though more outdoor participants feel this way.
Outdoor participants rate their fitness level 26% higher on average than non-participants. 31% of participants in outdoor recreation exercise vigorously, compared to 8% of non-participants. 88% of bikers participate in more than one outdoor activity.
Entry activities, like running, hockey, camping, bicycling and hiking are popular, accessible and often lead to other outdoor activities. The participation rate in outdoor activities of people with walking routes near their home is 9% higher than those without, and the participation rate of those with nearby biking routes is nearly 11% higher than those without.