What are the Fastest Growing Outdoor Activities?

Each year The Outdoor Foundation produces its annual Outdoor Recreation Report, which details participation trends for Americans in a range of outdoor activities. After browsing through the entire 68-page 2010 report, here are some of the more interesting factoids that jumped out.

Two of the top four fastest growing outdoor activities in 2009 were snow-related: snowshoeing (up 17.4 percent over 2008) and cross-country skiing (up 8.0 percent). The report cites a "good winter" (i.e. lots of snow) as a contributing factor to this increase. The other two sports in the top four were adventure racing (up 18.4 percent) and whitewater kayaking (up 10.2 percent).

The most popular outdoor activity based on total number of participants? Fishing. 48 million Americans went freshwater, saltwater, or fly-fishing in 2009. Rounding out the top five in this category were: running, jogging, and trail running (44.7 million); car, backyard, and RV camping (44.0 million); road biking, mountain biking, and BMX (43.3 million); and hiking (32.6 million).

People who live close to walking and bike routes are significantly more active. The outdoor participation rate for those near walking route is 20 percent higher than those without; near biking routes, 25 percent higher.

The report also highlights some long-term trends that have been evident for some time. The rate of participation in outdoor activities for 6 to 12-year-olds continues to decline. (In 2006, 78 percent participated in some form of outdoor recreation; 2008, 64 percent; 2009, 62 percent.)

The vast majority of outdoor participants are Caucasian. Overall, Caucasians account for 80 percent of total participants in outdoor activities; African-Americans, 7 percent; Hispanics, 6 percent; and Asian/Pacific Islanders, 5 percent. (In the 6-12 year age group, 67 percent of Caucasian kids had been active outdoors versus 50 percent Hispanic and 39 percent African-American.)

The report—along with a range of other fascinating research studies related to outdoor participation—can be found on The Outdoor Foundation's Research Page. The non-profit organization is particularly focused on addressing the challenge of getting youth active.

Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid

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