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Sports >  Outdoors

Report: Outdoor recreation participation continues to drop

Todd Dunfield, right, and Nneka Palmer try and stay dry on Saturday Jan. 11, 2020 while hiking along the 12-mile Mica Peak Traverse. (Eli Francovich / The Spokesman-Review)
Todd Dunfield, right, and Nneka Palmer try and stay dry on Saturday Jan. 11, 2020 while hiking along the 12-mile Mica Peak Traverse. (Eli Francovich / The Spokesman-Review)

Nearly half of Americans didn’t participate in any kind of outdoor recreation in 2019, according to a new report from the Outdoor Foundation.

In 2019, Americans went on 1 billion fewer outdoor outings than in 2018, and less than 18% of the population recreated outside at least once a week.

Youth participation has dropped by 1.4% in the past three years.

Caucasians still made up the lion’s share of outdoor recreationists, though Hispanics got outside twice as much as they did 10 years ago. And female participation grew 3.2% over 2018.

“The decline in youth activity was particularly concerning as youth participation is a strong indicator of future activity,” the report states. “In fact, adults that were active outside as children were twice as likely to be active when they became adults.”

The findings line up with longer-term (and concerning) trends.

“Over the past three years, overall outings have dropped by 4.5 percent,” the report states. “This historical downward trend indicates that Americans will likely continue spending less time outdoors, especially with intensifying external barriers, such as work and family demands as well as technology and cost of entry.”

The findings are concerning considering that outdoor recreation has been connected to a number of benefits including a reduction in stress, improved academic performance and more.

The report was based on 20,069 online interviews. To download the report, visit outdoorindustry.org/oia-participation/.

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