Despite evidence that spending time outside is good for your health and wellbeing, Americans are actually going outside less. According to the 2019 Outdoor Foundation study released on January 29, nearly half of the US population doesn’t partake in any outdoor recreation at all, while only 17.9 percent of people go out at least once a week. Compared to 2008, that means one billion fewer outdoor excursions. And it’s not just about loss of interest. The study claims that people are being deterred from outdoor activity by barriers like work, technology, and cost of entry to parks and other venues.
Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of the Outdoor Foundation, said, “[The study] indicates that we’re becoming an indoor nation. People are missing out on the joy, learning, and community building that the outdoors can provide. Whether you bike, hike, ski, hunt, run, or fish, it’s a lost opportunity.”
The Outdoor Foundation is using these statistics as motivation to get people outside and active again. “The evidence is building,” said Aangeenbrug, “that outdoor time can help address physical health issues, mental health issues, social and emotional learning, academic outcomes, and community connection.” The organization is working at federal and local levels to give communities greater access to outdoor spaces, and increase the number of people who regularly take advantage of local parks and recreational areas.