Are your local parks and trails far busier than usual? Is it harder to find a trailhead parking spot — not to mention new bikes, hiking boots and camping gear? It’s not your imagination. New data shows COVID-related impacts to participation in April, May and June of 2020. Americans have flocked to outdoor recreation amid COVID restrictions, as the data from OIA indicates.
- Americans took up new activities in significant numbers in April, May and June of 2020. Among the biggest gainers were running, cycling and hiking.
- Walking, running and hiking were widely considered the safest activities in which to participate.
- Among the five activity segments measured (team, fitness, outdoor, individual and racquet) outdoor saw the lowest impact due to COVID shutdowns, as just 34 percent of respondents said they could not participate in outdoor activities due to pandemic restrictions. Team sports were hardest hit at nearly 69 percent, followed by racquet at 55 percent.
- Urban participants flocked to outdoor activities: Running, bicycling, day hiking, bird watching and camping participation all rose noticeably among urban respondents since March shutdowns.
- Looking at April, May and June of 2020 versus the same period in 2019, unweighted participation rates for day hiking rose more than any other activity measured, up 8.4 percentage points.
This monthly data will be rolled into a full-year participation study to be published in 2021. The annual study starts with a nationally representative panel of over 1 million Americans and features responses from over 18,000 people ages 6 and older. The study currently includes 122 separate sports, fitness and recreational activities.