Snowshoeing through snow-covered woods. Outdoor activities allow Americans to appreciate their incredible natural inheritance, maintain their physical and mental well-being and make time for loved ones.
In 2011, outdoor recreation reached the highest participation level in the past five years. Nearly half of the U.S. population enjoyed various forms of outdoor recreation. That equates to a total of 141.1 million Americans, thousands more participants than 2010.
The findings in the 2012 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report helps the outdoor community, legislators and non-profit organizations better engage young people and their families in America’s great outdoors. The report is based on an online survey of more than 40,000 Americans ages six and older and covers 114 different outdoor activities, making it the largest survey of its kind.
Key findings include:
- Nearly 50 percent of Americans ages six and older participated in outdoor recreation in 2011. That equates to a total of 141.1 million Americans.
- Outdoor recreation reached the highest participation level in five years. Outdoor recreation added more than three thousand participants — a significant improvement over the past few years when participation either dropped or remained stagnant.
- In 2011, outdoor participants made 11.5 billion outings — that is 1.4 billion more outings than 2010.
- Freestyle skiing participation grew 59 percent over the past three years.
- Almost 60 percent of stand up paddling participants tried the activity for the first time in 2011.
- Almost half of all outdoor enthusiasts participate in outdoor activities at least once per week.
- Participants in gateway activities are more likely to enjoy multiple outdoor activities, rather than just one. In fact, 87 percent of hikers participate in one or more other outdoor activities.
- For the first time since 2006, participation in outdoor recreation among young boys reversed its downward trend and added participants. The participation rate among female teenagers also grew, reaching the highest rate recorded in this report.
- Although participation rates among youth ages six to 17 are up, average annual outings are down from 98 outings per participant in 2010 to 81 outings in 2011.
- Youth who do not participate in outdoor activities say they are not interested in the outdoors. For young adults, lack of time is a bigger barrier than lack of interest.
- Introducing outdoor recreation and physical activities early in life has a lasting effect. Among adults who are current outdoor participants, 82 percent report having a physical education class between the ages of six and 12. Forty-five percent of adult outdoor participants took part in outdoor activities from ages six to 12.
- As seen in previous reports, participation in outdoor activities is significantly higher among Caucasians than any other ethnicity and lowest among African Americans.
- Although Hispanic Americans have one of the lowest overall outdoor participation rates, those who do participate go outside the most often.