According to the latest report from the Outdoor Foundation, U.S. participation in outdoor pursuits increased last year, with millennials showing the largest boost among all age groups.
Accounting for population increases, the country’s outdoor participation rate continued to hover around 48 percent, but outdoor participation by adults ages 18 to 24 was up 5 percent, demonstrating definitive interest in the outdoors by a younger set.
“The great news for millennials is that their generation is realizing what the outdoors has to offer — a healthier, more active lifestyle that allows you to try new experiences with friends,” Christine Fanning, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, told GrindTV.
“Given the stark trends around inactivity and the impact such a lifestyle can have on health and well-being, it’s great news that this influential group seems to be leading the way to a healthier, more active way of life,” she added.
However, not all the numbers in the study (which surveyed 19,000 Americans) showed a positive trend.
While 142 million Americans recreated outdoors at least once during 2015 (which represents 1 million more than the year prior), the country actually showed a decrease in total number of “outings” — 11.7 billion in 2015 versus the 11.8 billion reported in 2014.
But, while people may not be going outdoors as frequently, it’s clear that young adults at least are exploring their options.
There are some concerted efforts to encourage millennials to use their unprecedented social prowess to engage friends to check out the great outdoors in a group setting.
For example, the Outdoor Foundation launched a program several years ago called Outdoor Nation, which is designed to empower young people to mobilize and motivate their peers to get outdoors.
The program is about to get a refresh with a new initiative called Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge, where college students compete to get the most people outdoors and active, according to Fanning.
Perhaps a bit of peer pressure is actually healthy for young people — and the planet?
“Outdoor recreation is a great way to connect with friends and enjoy the outdoors, leading to more socially aware and environmentally engaged people. We think young people need to have fun outdoors as a first step to being able to understand and appreciate the environment — and then help protect it,” Fanning says.
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