Walking for Fitness is the Most Popular Crossover Activity

Public health officials are eager to get Americans up on their feet and moving. An active lifestyle is associated with better health and lower medical costs. The 2014 Outdoor Recreation Participation study describes which consumers are engaging in the most exercise and which activities are most popular.

The Outdoor Foundation reports that about 49.2% of all U.S. residents engaged in some type of outdoor activity last year. Experts note that about 24% of these folks are super participants and go outside at least twice a week. About 70% of outdoor participants are Caucasian, 11% are Black, and 8% are Hispanic. 7% identify as Asian/​Pacific Islander and 4% as other.

Researchers also looked at teen outdoor participation. In the past year, the number of male teens participating in outdoor activity dropped slightly, to 66%. For teen girls, the rate increased slightly, to 53%. The most popular outdoor activities for kids ages 6 to 17 include road, mountain or BMX biking (27%) and running/​jogging and trail running (24%).

While researchers discovered that running/​jogging/​trail running is the most popular outdoor activity overall, enjoyed by 20% of Americans, walking is the top crossover activity. At least 54% of outdoor Americans are walking for fitness.  Consumers who engage in outdoor recreation are also making purchases. For example, over 40% spent the same on footwear and apparel as they’ve spent in previous years and 35% spent the same on sports and related equipment.

According to AudienceSCAN, women, 58.7%, make up more of the audience of consumers who walk for health reasons than men, 41.3%. Nearly half, 47.9%, of walkers also enjoy exploring nature.  About 13.6% of walkers either have an existing health club membership or intend to join a club in the next year. That figure is 43% higher than average.  Walkers also over-​index when it comes to bicycling/​spinning and camping/​hiking.

Marketers may want to advertise in newspapers or magazines, either in print or online, to reach these consumers. About 22.5% of walkers have started an online search in the past year because of a news article they read.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.