Participation in outdoor recreation reached a six-year high in 2012 with nearly 50 percent of Americans ages six and older taking part in at least one of the 43 outdoor activities included in the latest Outdoor Foundation report. This percentage equates to 141.9 million American outdoor participants, reflecting an increase of nearly a million people compared to 2011
In addition, outdoor participants were more active in 2012 than in past years, taking an average of 87.4 outdoor outings per participant for a total 12.4 billion outings. Overall, more Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2012 than in any year since The Outdoor Foundation began measuring participation six years ago, perhaps signaling a move toward healthier, more active lifestyles, says the advocacy group.
Participation rates by age remained consistent in most categories from 2011 to 2012. Participation rates among younger generations remained steady yet are still significantly lower than they were in 2006. Young participants are also less diverse than the nation’s population as a whole. In 2012, 71 percent of youth and young adult participants were non-Hispanic Caucasian – not reflective of the nation’s increasingly diverse population.
“We are greatly encouraged by the growing number of people getting outside,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “Moving forward, a continued growth strategy focused on today’s youth and future generations of outdoor participants is critical to reconnecting Americans with nature and healthier lifestyles.”
When averaging the year-to-year changes in participation for specific outdoor activities over the past three years, multisport activities, such as triathlons and adventure racing, have experienced the largest average annual increases in participation. Activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, camping, RV camping, and rafting have all experienced the largest average annual decreases.