New Study into Outdoor Exercise



The Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) and Sport England have shared findings of what they consider to be the broadest research ever undertaken of the outdoor activity market.

The last year has seen a 3 per cent rise in the number of people participating in outdoor activities, a period that has seen Sport England increase its interest in understanding the outdoor market and its potential for getting more people involved in the health benefits it brings.

The study commissioned by Sport England and delivered by the OIA looks at the supply and demand of the outdoor activity market and those who enjoy getting their exercise fix in the great outdoors.

Sport England Chief Executive, Jennie Price, said: “Knowing what people want from their sporting experience is essential if we’re going to make the opportunities absolutely right for them. That’s why I’m really excited about this research and the potential it has to help get more people active more often.”

“This report will help us to understand further the outdoors and the opportunities it presents. It has great potential for the whole sector and I am keen to share it.”

Almost 9 million of us venture outdoors to keep fit but within that figure 2.8 million want to do more. The statistic helps to explain the new drive to find out what activities we are doing, what keeps us active and what issues prevent us from participating.

The study also aims to discover areas of potential growth in the market; currently there are 18.2 million people who are not active outdoors but who want to be. This latent demand holds to the key to understanding how inactive folk can be motivated to move towards outside activities.

Chief Executive of OIA, Andrew Denton has called the research “fundamental” as a pathway to Sport England’s understanding of the outdoor sector, in its capacity to shed light on opportunities to increase outdoor recreation and understanding its participants.

“I would urge any organisation that has an interest in the outdoor sector to engage with its findings,” Mr Denton said.

In the context of the report the ‘outdoors’ considers activities in a myriad of environments including sky, snow water, mountain, parks and urban spaces, with the latter offering great potential given people like to be active close to home.

Motivation for open-air fitness changes considerably according to a whole range of variables. The report breaks down motivational factors into eight participation groups: The Explorer, the Challenger, Fitness in Nature, the Tribe Member, the Adventurer, the Learner, the Freestyler and the Thrill Seeker.

Among other findings, the study concluded that:

-92 per cent of people take part in outdoors activities to relax and de-stress.
-The outdoors sector has over 9,000 service providers.
-70 - 80 per cent of all outdoor users feel being active outside strengthens family relationships.

In order to help people from across the sector fully benefit from the latest insight and the profiling tools, a series of ten free interactive workshops are being held across England over the summer.

Delivered by the OIA and supported by Sport England, the workshops will contextualise the information in the report and help organisations wanting to get the most out of the insight.
To view the schedule of workshops and to register your interest, visit


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