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Study: Kids Losing Interest in Outdoor Activities

Study: Kids Losing Interest in Outdoor Activities

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Keith McCord Reporting One of the keys to a long and healthy life is exercise, but America's young people seem to be losing interest in certain recreational activities. A new study was released at this week's Outdoor Retailers Convention in Salt Lake, and it shows changing participation trends.

During the past year, 60,000 young Americans between the ages of six and 24 were surveyed. Those in the survey group were asked about what activities they do and how often they do them. There was both good and bad news.

The good news is that kids under the age of 12 are still quite active. They ride their bikes, they hike and camp and fish with mom and dad on those summer vacations. As they age, though, those habits change.

Michelle Barnes, Vice President of the Outdoor Industry Foundation, says, "After about age 12, they quit being as active in the outdoors. About age 12, we start losing them."

Losing them to other activities. At school they want to be with their friends, and on their computers, cell phones and iPods, and with the opposite sex!

President of the Outdoor Industry Association, Frank Hugelmeyer, says, "Major changes, I think, when they start to discover that there's another gender, has a tendency to drop that off."

The study shows that young women start losing interest at about age 13. Only 54 percent say they take part in at least one outdoor activity, down from 77 percent before then.

Boys stay with it longer, and then they reduce their activities beginning at about age 18.

For the Outdoor Industry, that's a concern-- the next generation isn't as involved as we were!

Barnes says, "And more than that as an industry, we need to rethink how we view being active outdoors."

The Baby Boom generation views the outdoors as hiking, fishing, camping, going to Yellowstone, back country skiing, biking and kayaking.

"A lot of kids today are in urban environments, and outdoors to them is the park next door, or the lot next door, or bike path in their community. So we need to change the way we look at the outdoors to be inclusive where youth are actually playing today," Barnes said.

A paradigm-shift, then, is necessary for manufacturers of outdoor equipment. The challenge will be to engage young people to want to try new things. The bottom line in all this is to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Hugelmeyer says, "Eighty percent of the people who are active in this lifestyle feel more successful, have happier family relationships, they're better performing in schools."

Michelle Barnes adds, "Grab ‘em early. If you don't get them when they're young, we're not going to get them as outdoor enthusiasts, environmentalists or consumers."

Top five sports that young people age six to 24 regularly take part in, in order, are bicycling, running or jogging, skateboarding, fishing and wildlife viewing.

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