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More Americans are Heading Outdoors This Year

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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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It's still over 100 degrees where I live but soon I will be outside more. I exercise inside during the summer unless I'm up north or visiting family in the midwest. Then we spend time outdoors. Report
Sorry, I don't do outside in the summer. I do all of my exercise inside. Report
I love hiking and bike riding! Our family just returned from a week in Great Smoky Mountains National Park where we did a lot of hiking - one hike was to the top of the 3rd tallest mountain there. Can't wait to return; wish we lived closer so we could visit more often. America is blessed with an abundance of national parks - I want to visit all of them! Report
I have always loved being outdoors in good weather!!! Going to try to increase that time when the snow flies this winter and bundle up and walk in the lovely whiteness!!! Report
Indoor and outdoor soccer have been big sports in our family. Hiking, camping, rock climbing and such are big summer activities with downhill skiing, snowboarding and snow shoeing in the winter. When it is -20 to -40 (and it often is in the winter) outdoor activities come to abrupt halt. Report
Me and my fiance love to hunt, fish, camp and do yardwork all the time. I LOVE being outside. Report
I am a family of one--me--and love walking along our Bay. The problem is at this time of year, although the weather is beautiful, the pollen count is high. Even with medication and staying indoor when I feel the worst, I don't get as much time outdoors at I would like. Report
We camp and take walks and bike rides. My daughter loves to play outside. We're getting her a swingset this year and she's really looking forward to it. We are also going to hike this summer now that I am in better shape and able to hike. Report
I agree with the article about kids being outside. We played in our backyard as kids, but never did outside family activities, and I feel like it doesn't come natural to me to do family activities outside with my own kids. I really have to motivate myself to get up and do it. It easy to have an excuse-too hot, too buggy, to windy...but I love that they want to be outside and I'm always looking for things to expose them to. Report
We spend as much time as we can outdoors, we garden, we swim at a lake or outdoor pool. we ride our bikes all over the place. Sometimes we just sit out on the deck and read. we feed the birds, and fish and camp. Report
I love being outside year round. I bundle up in layers for winter and mimimize for hot weather. I always feel better after getting outside. Report
I grew up outdoors and cannot imagine living where I go outside to pollution and tons of people. It would drive me crazy. I can handle cities for a short visit but not forever. I grew up camping, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, watching wildlife (like sitting top of the hill to watch the beavers work). I've taken my sleepign bag, bug dope and laid out in the field for hours at night to watch the Northern Lights. I used to ski, go out on the snowmobile, ice fish and such when I was younger and when I lived in the Arctic. I don't do that so much due to the fact I don't have the same lifestyle. I still get out in the winter and walk. Even visiting the folks if its nice out, we are always outside - even if its just sitting out on the patio. Go to the parks with the kids I work with, my friends children and my nephew and niece. I used to golf and play ball. Got away from golf following an injury with my neck and then my friends all moved away who I golfed with. Plus we don't have a decent driving range, so don't even go out to hit the balls. I don't play ball as no one will take me on their team. It's a small town full of cliques and I don't fit in. Whatever, their loss. I've always been an outdoors person though and don't plan to change any time soon. :) Report
I live in the Northeast and when the weather turns warmer (40 degrees is warm!), I start walking outside after being cooped up inside with my elliptical all winter! Now, my husband and I (and sometimes the kids; they are teenagers and would rather hang out with their friends) kayak, run, walk, hike, and bike outside. We even ran in the warm spring rain on Sunday! Report
We have made a point of taking one 7-day "back country" vacation every year for the last 25 years with the entire family. Hiking, tubing, caving, bicycling, camping, and so on. It is a fully rejuvenating experience for all of us for many reasons, emotionally and physically. Report
I enjoy being on the deck reading or taking a walk in the A.M. before the kids get up. After that, it's just chase, chase, chase, etc. The 12-year-old usually takes off with friends but the 3-year-old (grandkids) just plays in the dirt pile in the back yard with his trucks. With my asthma and allergies, when it starts getting humid or very windy, it's back in the house and watch out the window to be sure little bits doesn't get into something he shouldn't. Report
I've always enjoyed the outdoors. When I was a kid my friends and I would stay out all day and well into the night during summers. In winter, we played football and basketball outdoors until dark on the weekends. Out basketball goal was in the carport, so we would sometimes play after dark, too. Going on vacations to the beach was a summer must well into early adulthood. Now, I enjoy working in our yard, taking long walks with my husband, running paths and trails, playing outside with the grandchildren, and soaking up lots of vitamin D. Report
I personally hate being outdoors. Pretty much anything I like to do is INSIDE where the temperature is controlled and the bugs and dirt stay far away from me. Report
I love being outdoors and try to do spend as much time outside as possible. I live in Kansas where is icy and freezing in winter and hot and humid in the summer, so it's difficult to be outside all the time. My husband and I love grilling out and enjoying our meal on the patio in the evenings. I also absolutely love running outdoors in the morning. Report
After the long northeast winter that we had, I was so excited to be able to go outside! We have 20 acres. My three boys spend most of their time outside and now that they are older and don't need as much supervision, I find it easier to stay inside and get stuff accomplished. I need to change this. I am working on getting the house in order so I can spend more time with them outside. I love to garden, mow once a week or so, ride bikes, fish, walk, hike, etc. We plan on doing a lot of that this summer with friends and family! Report
Our outdoor activities are mostly yard work. I love it! We have 2 beautiful acres on a quiet creek. I love it when the birds are singing and baby ducks are following Momma Duck around. The dog and I go to the river at least once a week for a 20 or 30 minute hike. We both love that. Report
My family and I have taken up geocaching: the coolest activity ever! My sister and I both have smartphones but don't live at home anymore so we got my mom a GPS receiver for Mother's Day this year so she can go without us now. Report
My family and I love to be outdoors. We go hiking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming, running, biking, camping, eating, and even sleeping outdoors. This year we're going to learn to ski in the winter. If we can be outdoors, we're a happy family. Unfortunately in the midwest we can't be out as often as we like so we scour the US for places to vacation outdoors. Report
Just started getting back outdoors since being on SP after sitting in for several years. Now, I love an early morning walk on my days off but the other days I start work at 6:30 a.m. Since the afternoon temps are in the 90s now, I've joined a gym until my days off, we can get in a shady area or until the fall when the temps are cooler. Report

I love being outside in the spring, summer (my fav), and fall but not so much in the winter. Need the Vitamin D and fresh air! Report
I love being outdoors whether it be walking, bike riding or swimming. As my son is starting to get in those pre teen years I am challenged to get him outside to do things with me. He still will go bike riding with me but going for a walk to the play ground just isn't cool any more! Report
We have just taken up geocaching and head to the locaal parks and lakes to throw rocks.It's awesome all the wonderful people we find at the parks. Report
My family is discovering the joy of kayaking! We have a pond where we are able to glide around for a great workout. Report
There are lots of beautiful parks around us, and we try to rotate through them as much as possible. One is even in walking distance for an extra bit of exercise. Report
Sadly with the Oil Spill DIASTER in the Gulf of Mexico, we probably will not spend time at beautiful Pensacola Beach, Florida like we always do. This should have never happened. Our beaches are one of the most beautiful places to spend time outdoors, so this is such a sad happening. Report
We try to get out doors as much as we can. I especially think it is important to get the kids out! Last year we went on a two week camping trip! We went from Indiana to AZ, CO, UT and back. It was great to see our great country! Report
DH and I have always been outdoors kis. Unfortunately our sons who were raised camping and hiking have married and seem to be neglecting the outdoors fun in favour of computer fun. Not much I can do. I try to have the grandkids visit Maine in summer so we can travel and walk together in Natural settings. I hope we are influencing then enough they will love i too. Pat in Maine. Report
We camp all summer long in Ashburnham, and have since 1980. Started with 2 tents, then a pop-up, now a trailer (that hasn't been out of the campground since 1991). Now we have the grandkids up for a good part of the summer, too! Report
I never realized until recently just how much I love being outside in the warm months... I hit the gym practically every day all winter long, and now I'm there maybe once a week, if it rains, because I've been out walking, running, hiking or biking every day instead. I might as well pitch a tent and live out there until labor day. Report
Rural, country folks here. We are all about the outdoors, playing, gardening, working. We do as much outdoors as we can and love it. Report
Being a country girl from the time I was 10, I love being outdoors. Married a farmer and got even more of it. Those animals want fed twice a day, 7 days a week! After we sold the dairy cows, I really started to pack on the weight. Getting back to the outdoors, I hope will really help. DH got me a bicycle for Mother's Day and I'm using it as much as I can. I'm also coaxing DH to do some trail walking with me. Got a taste of the bugs this weekend, so must remember repellant next time. Report
I bet this can be attributed to the sad economy - people have less money to go to the movies, shopping, etc, so they are heading outdoors.

They've recently opened a nature preserve hiking trail in our town as well as a bike/walking trail that goes through many neighboring towns, so those 2 features draw us outside a lot now. Report
We've always been outdoors people... definitely more so in the summer than in the winter. It's always involved water, too. Get me near a beach, lake, or river, and I'm happy. Report
Never been an outdoor person. But several months ago, I started forcing myself to get out and walk several times a week. Now I love being outside to get exercise! I definitely feel better when I get some outdoor time each day. Yay for Vitamin D! Report
I've always spent time outdoors. There are very few outdoor sports I haven't tried. Bicycling seems to be a great social and physical outdoor activity for my time in life. It always changes. Report
Going to the park... it maybe because of people saving, making things simplier in their lives... Report
I love the outdoors and the freshness of it. My husband works in a physically demandive job so he doesn't do any other sports. I love to participate in any sport available in my age group.
Hopefully my girls will follow in my foot steps but if they work in a physical demanding job that would be ok too. Report
I have for several years been had the stay inside bug. Once it bites you, it is hard to get rid of. However, a friend and I started walking at work over a year ago. It was kind of hit and miss then. This year we upped our walking to two 20 minute sessions a day, and now, if I miss some time outside just to walk, I really, really miss it. I long for the fresh air and the breeze. My husband and I also spend more time outside, working my flowers and roses, swinging the golf clubs, riding bikes, or just sitting in our previously under-used lawn chairs. I love the outdoors and cannot get enough. And, even though we have not been camping in a couple of years due to time constraints, we love to camp...tent, air mattress, community showers...There is nothing that makes me feel better than just to be outdoors! Report
We live in Canada, so when winter really hits, most hibernate! There is a period of time when it drops to -30 C, that we do stay in! Other than that, we bundle up! We love to go tobogganing- great fun to slide down the hill and great exercise climbing back up! We also to love hiking and there are a lot of great trails to walk on here! or... we can drive about 4 hours and go hiking on frozen rivers and streams!

As soon as spring hits- we are definitely outside as much as possible!! We love hiking, going to playgrounds, there are a lot of spray parks here in the city, plus we have a huge backyard, so love to have people over for slip n' slide, frisbee, and lots of other outdoor fun! Report
The region i'm from...Caribbean...makes it possible for year round..enjoyment of
outdoor activites....and I'm a lover of the outdoors,whether its walking,gardening.
going to the beach or any other form of activity...My hubby and I we sit out on our patio at night,till about 11pm most nights,just enjoying the breeze,the stars,..........
chatting and just chilling..we love outdoors and simple pleasures. Report
My family and I were always outdoorsy people. After our family meals on Sunday, we would all go to the park and we thought it was because that would wear us down. I enjoy taking walks after eating now and try and get as much out of the day as I can, even the evening breezes are nice as well. Report
My husband and I started taking short hikes every weekend in early May. We only do 3-5 miles on easy to moderate trails in our local regional park district. We plan on upping the milage and ease once we are in better shape. We've decided we really love it and are looking for ways to keep it up even in the winter. Report
We have enjoyed the great outdoors for years. Camping and hiking . Birdwatching in fact all wildlife watching. Most of our grand kids have been lucky enough to enjoy family outdoor activities too. Report
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