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Study: More Americans exercising outdoors

Published June 7, 2013
Triathlon sees largest average annual increases.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — About 141.9 million Americans got outdoors last year to exercise and take part in at least one of the 43 outdoor activities that the Outdoor Foundation tracks. That’s up from 141.1 million in 2011 and the highest level of participation in outdoor recreation since the Foundation first launched its annual report.

Of the activities it tracks, triathlons—both road and off-road—experienced the largest average annual increases in participation over the past three years. Off-road triathlons have grown 40 percent, on average, while participation in road triathlons has grown, on average, 30 percent. Combined, about 3.6 million Americans took part in a triathlon in 2012, according to the Foundation’s topline report. That’s up from 2.1 million in 2011, and 2.9 million in 2010.

Road riding declined slightly last year to 39.2 million participants from 40.3 million in 2011. Mountain biking grew last year to 7.7 million from 2011’s 6.8 million, according to the report.

Biking ranked No. 2 among the most popular outdoor activities among youth and young adults (ages 6 to 24) with 22.3 percent or 18 million young Americans taking to two wheels. It’s second only to running, jogging and trail running. 

Cycling is the third most popular outdoor activity among adults ages 25 and over with 12 percent or 24.8 million; fishing and running/jogging/trail running were No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.

The report found that Americans were more active last year than in years prior, suggesting a move toward healthier, more active lifestyles. Participation rates by age remained consistent in most activities from 2011 to 2012. And while youth participation in outdoor sports remains steady, it’s still significantly lower than in 2006.

The Outdoor Foundation’s 2013 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report is based on an online survey of more than 42,000 Americans ages 6 and older and covers more than 40 activities.

To download a copy of the topline report, go to:

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