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The Outdoor Foundation 2009 Participation Topline Report Shows Solid Increase in Active, Nature-based Outdoor Recreation

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Overall Participation in Recreation, Sports and Fitness Remains Steady

Washington, DC — Initial data from the 2009 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report, published by The Outdoor Foundation, shows that an increasing number of Americans returned to nature and active outdoor activities last year. The study finds sizeable participation increases in nearly every nature-based activity including double-digit increases in backpacking, mountain biking and trail running and close to a ten percent increase in hiking and camping. Overall participation trends in recreation, sports and fitness remained largely unchanged from last year.

“Americans, once again, are finding solace and security, adventure and excitement in the great outdoors,” said Christine Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “During these challenging economic times, a return to affordable, nature-based recreation allows individuals, friends and families to reconnect — with one another, with the natural world and with natural values.”

The Outdoor Foundation 2009 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report also shows increases in many active outdoor activities among youth, showing a positive trend from 2008 in some key areas. Biking, backpacking and hiking are just a few of the activities that show increases in participation among young people. Overall, outdoor participation for youth ages 6 – 12 is down 7.6% from last year, showing a continued need to focus on connecting kids and nature.

“It is certainly encouraging to see an increase of youth participation in some important recreation categories, but more must be done,” continued Fanning. “Public and private partnerships, effective outreach programs and creative campaigns must be top priorities for every sector of society if we are to truly inspire and grow the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.”

Retail sales information from Outdoor Industry Association supports the assumption that Americans are returning to nature and outdoor activities. The Outdoor Industry displayed recession resilience in 2008, outperforming many other industries, with a 5% gain over 2007.

The Outdoor Foundation’s 2009 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report details Americans’ participation in outdoor activities from 2007 to 2008. The Report is a high level overview of The Foundation’s full Participation Report, which will be released later this year with expanded data and full analysis.

The Outdoor Foundation’s Outdoor Recreation Participation Report is the only detailed study of its kind tracking American participation trends in outdoor recreation. The study is based on an on-line survey capturing responses from over 40,000 Americans ages six and older and covers 114 different outdoor activities, making it the largest survey of its type examining participation in sports and outdoor activities. The survey represents a collaborative effort among The Outdoor Foundation, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, National Golf Foundation, and Snow Sports Industries America.

A copy of the 2009 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report along with the 2008 Outdoor Recreation Participation Report can be downloaded from The Outdoor Foundation website at


About The Outdoor Foundation
The Outdoor Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts. Through ground-breaking research, action-oriented convening and outreach and education programs, The Foundation is working with partners to mobilize a major cultural shift that leads all American back to the great outdoors. For more information, visit

Contact Information:
Christine Fanning
The Outdoor Foundation
[email protected]

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