EXEC: Outside Participation Holding Onto Pandemic-Influenced Features


Outdoor participation has proven persistent as participation increased in 2021, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s recently released 2022 Outdoor Participation Trends Report, which showed that outdoor participation has increased by 6.9 percent since the pandemic began in early 2020 have increased, with the number of new and returning (lapsed) outdoor participants increasing by 26 percent.

“There was a reasonable expectation that in 2021, the second year of the pandemic, outdoor participation would return to 2019 levels as indoor activities, including restaurants, sporting events, fitness centers and gyms, would reopen,” it said in the study. “The 2021 data shows that participation in outdoor leisure activities gained momentum in 2021. This data shows that outdoor recreation is ‘sticky’. Once someone starts participating, they are likely to continue participating,” the report continued.

Overall, 164.2 million, or 54 percent, of Americans ages six and older participated in outdoor recreation at least once in 2021, a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year. The highest number of participants since records began.

The number of children participating in outdoor recreational activities had also increased. Since 2019, girls aged 6 to 12 have increased in participation by 4.9 percent and girls aged 13 to 17 by 5.3 percent. Men aged 13 to 24 were less affected by the pandemic, and their participation rate increased by less than 2 percent.

The report found that new outdoor participants are more diverse than total outdoor participants, and the number of participants over the age of 55 has increased by more than 14 percent since 2019. However, frequent or “core” participation in outdoor leisure activities declined, including among youth (the “core” outdoor participant is defined as someone who participated in outdoor recreation 51 times or more in the past 12 months). , has declined from 71.9 percent in 2007 to 58.7 percent of the subscriber base in 2021. The number of core subscribers has declined from 99.5 million in 2007 to 96.4 million today).

The study also found that despite the increase in the number of participants, the number of outdoor excursions has been declining and has been declining over the past decade. Other insights are:

  • The top five most popular activities are ongoing, 64.5 million participants winning 739,000 year over year; hiking, 58.7 million, up 889,000; Cycling, 51.4 million, down 1.4 million; camping, 45.9 million, down 2 million; and fishing, 52.4 million, out of 2.3 million.
  • Women from the age of six make up 46.5 percent of all outdoor participants. The difference between the number of male and female participants has slowly approached parity over the past two decades. Since 2015, women have increased about one percent. The number of women participating in outdoor recreation has increased by 20 million since 2015, and the number of men has increased by 19 million.
  • Seniors 65 and older have grown by 2.5 million, or 16.8 percent, since 2019, the largest increase in percent and number in the subscriber base. The second-oldest age group of 55 to 64 year olds grew the second strongest with two million new participants with an increase of 11.7 percent. Increases in participation by those over 55 accounted for 43 percent of the total increase in participation since 2019, the period hardest hit by the pandemic.
  • The participation rate for households with children has been increasing for more than five years. The pandemic accelerated the trend. More families participate in outdoor recreation, with families participating more often on average than adults without children (46 percent to 61 percent). The study showed that family involvement is “critical to future involvement.” Most adults who frequently participate in outdoor recreational activities started as children.
  • The median income for outdoor participants is $70,635, about $10,000 more than the average for all Americans.
  • In the US, highly educated consumers are more likely to participate in outdoor recreational activities. Overall, 35 percent of Americans age 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree or higher, but more than 40 percent of outdoor participants in the same age group have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Campers most commonly participate in other outdoor activities, but most outdoor participants participate in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities. Among campers, 98.3 percent participate in other outdoor activities, compared to 89.1 percent for cycling, 85.0 percent for hiking, 83.3 percent for running, and 78.9 percent for fishing.
  • Being physically active outside is the top reason why men (74.9 percent) and women (80.2 percent) participate in outdoor activities. Interacting with nature, visiting neighborhood parks, and touring through natural environments are other popular aspects of outdoor recreation for participants.