More Americans are Heading Outdoors This Year


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
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My kids love to be outside. They don't care if we're taking a walk, playing on the swing set or just looking at bugs on the patio. As long as we are outside, they are happy. And I'm happy too. It's easy to get depressed during the winter when it's cold and dark all the time. But when springtime comes, I find myself looking forward to each day a little more. My family spends a lot of time outdoors, and according to new research, we aren't alone.

The U.S. Outdoor Foundation has released their 2010 Recreation and Participation Report, which finds that more people are heading outside for activity. Outdoor sports and activities increased 3.3% over the past year, from 97.5 million to 100.7 million for Americans ages 6 and older. In this tough economy, camping and hiking continue to be popular options for those on a smaller vacation budget. Sports such as water-skiing, scuba diving and saltwater fishing have seen consistent declines in recent years, which isn't surprising since they tend to be more expensive activities.

According to the study, "The Outdoor Foundation worked with its partners in the Physical Activity Council to measure participation in 117 sports fitness and recreation activities. 77% of Americans age 6 and over took part in at least one activity (217.0 million people). This leaves 64.6 million people who are inactive according to even this broadest definition of activity." It's great that so many people are active, but there are millions more who need encouragement to get outside for some exercise and fresh air.

The study also stresses the need to encourage kids to be physically active as much as possible. "Those who are active in their school years are three times more likely to be super active as adults, and are more than twice as likely to take part in high calorie burning activities." The study defines "super active" as participating in a sports activity 500 or more times over a year. The researchers also stress the importance of physical education classes in school, since those students are "Nearly twice as likely to be super active as adults."

Does your family participate in outdoor activities? Is that a new trend in your household, or have you always been someone who enjoys being outside?

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