How COVID-19 Has Impacted Outdoor Recreation

A new report commissioned by the Outdoor Industry Association offers valuable insights about Americans’ engagement in outdoor activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 5, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By clementkhlau @clemusc


Outdoor Exercise

Halfpoint / Shutterstock

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, more Americans have turned to the great outdoors, some for the first time and others for the first time in many years. The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) commissioned a special report from research partner NAXION to study and provide insights about Americans’ engagement in outdoor activities during the pandemic. Specifically, the report examines demographics and psychographics of new outdoor participants which are defined as people who participated in an outdoor activity for the first time during the pandemic or after a significant lapse.

Some of the report's key findings are:

  • Those who participated in an outdoor activity for the first time alone did so close to home and chose an activity with a low barrier to entry (e.g., walking, running, biking, hiking, etc.).
  • More than 60 percent of those who started or resumed walking, bicycling, fishing, or running/jogging intend to continue once restrictions lift.
  • The top reasons for starting an outdoor activity during the pandemic include getting exercise, staying healthy, and getting out of the house.
  • Walking is the most commonly reported new outdoor activity. One-quarter of new participants report that they picked up running/jogging and/or bicycling. Birdwatching and fishing form a third tier of new or resumed activities.
  • About one-quarter of new participants say they don't want to continue their outdoor activities. Among the few that aren’t likely to continue their new outdoor activities, the top barriers include travel, resuming other activities, and family demands.
  • A lack of information about where to go, how to participate, and whom to participate with can be a barrier to trying new outdoor activities. Providing this kind of information could keep new participants engaged and attract others.

For more information, please review the report in its entirety.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021 in Outdoor Industry Association

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