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Report finds slight decrease in outdoor participation

Published May 18, 2015
Outdoor Foundation attributes 0.8% decline to extreme weather but says nearly half of Americans still got outside in 2014.

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Nearly half of all Americans — 48.4 percent — participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2014, a decrease of 0.8 percent compared with 2013, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2015 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report.

By a small margin, participation reached the lowest levels since the report began in 2006 — most likely due to extreme weather and an unusually cold winter, the Outdoor Foundation stated. Still, that activity equated to 141.4 million participants who went on a collective 11.8 billion outdoor outings.

While the typically popular gateway activities of running and biking lost participants in 2014, the indoor versions of these activities — running on a treadmill and using a stationary bike — added participants.

Stand-up paddling posted the strongest growth rate among outdoor activities, increasing participation by 38 percent from 2013 to 2014. Snow sports, such as telemarking, snowshoeing, freestyle skiing and cross-country skiing, also grew by significant margins, the Foundation reported.

Breaking out the report’s bicycling categories, mountain/non-paved surface riding declined by about 5.8 percent in 2014, but is up 6 percent over the past three years. Road/paved surface riding dropped by 2.8 percent last year and is down 0.5 percent over three years. BMX, meanwhile, saw an 8.4 percent increase last year and is up 16.2 over three years, though its overall participation numbers are significantly lower than the other two bicycling categories tracked in the topline report.

“With a dip in participation numbers, it is more critical than ever that we expand our nationwide efforts to reconnect Americans to the outdoors,” said Christine Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation. “The Outdoor Foundation will continue empowering youth and young adults to lead the outdoor movement, ensuring a generation of outdoor enthusiasts and communities of healthy, active Americans.” 

The Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report provides an overview of American participation trends in outdoor recreation with a focus on youth, young adults and the future of the outdoors. The full report will be released this summer. The study is based on an online survey of nearly 11,000 Americans ages 6 and older and is the largest survey of its kind.

To download a copy of the topline report, visit the Outdoor Foundation’s website

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