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Study: Nearly half of Americans participate in outdoor recreation

Published October 31, 2014
Outdoor Foundation report emphasizes importance of engaging more youths in outdoor activity.

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Almost 143 million Americans, or 49.2 percent of the U.S. population, participated in an outdoor activity at least once in 2013, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2014 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report. Although the actual number of outdoor participants increased since 2012, the participation rate fell slightly due to population growth.

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The Outdoor Foundation’s eighth annual Outdoor Recreation Participation Report aims to help the outdoor industry, public agencies and community organizations better understand the trends in outdoor recreation participation, enabling groups to address America’s “inactivity crisis” and the disconnect between children and the outdoors. The report is based on an online survey of more than 19,000 Americans ages 6 and older and covers 114 outdoor activities.

The study, which provides an in-depth look at youth, shows mixed results about the youngest generations’ participation in outdoor activities. Participation among teenage girls made up for some of the losses seen in 2012 by adding three percentage points. Meanwhile, participation rates among girls and young women increased by two percentage points — bringing young women’s participation to the highest rate since 2006. Participation among male youth, on the other hand, either fell or remained steady.

“The Outdoor Participation Report shows that the percentage of female youth who are inspired to enjoy the outdoors is on the rise,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “Although encouraged by the report’s findings, we also recognize that the importance of continuing efforts to engage all young people in outdoor recreation so that we may foster a new generation of passionate outdoor enthusiasts and committed stewards.”

Road, mountain and BMX biking was the most popular youth outdoor activity based on overall participation of 13.6 million children ages 6 to 17 — or 27 percent of American youth. But the study cited running, jogging and trail running as the “favorite” youth activity based on frequency of participation, with 936.9 million outings, or 77 average outings per runner.

To download the report, go to the Outdoor Foundation website.

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