Fewer children participated in outdoor sports and activities in 2009 than in 2008, but a steady drop in youth participation in recent years appears to be bottoming out.

Among children ages 6 to 12 years, 62 percent participated in some form of outdoor recreation in 2009, a decline of 2 percent from 2008, found the 2010 Outdoor Participation Survey by the Outdoor Foundation.

“We are encouraged that the trends appear to be stabilizing with youth participation rates,” said Chris Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “Sharing the benefits of a healthy active outdoor lifestyle with all of our youth will ensure healthier children, healthier communities, and healthier businesses.”

Participation in outdoor activities among children has drop dramatically since the survey was first conducted in 2006, when 78 percent of children participated in some form of outdoor recreation.

The survey, now in its fourth year, gathered responses from over 40,000 Americans ages six and older and covers over 114 different outdoor activities.

It found that about 50% of Americans, 17.8 million people, engaged in outdoor activities ranging from mountain climbing to scuba diving in 2009. This was a slight overall increase in participation over 2008. Of the participants, only 22 percent are avid outdoors enthusiasts who get out two times a week or more.

A few activities saw big upticks in participation in 2009, including adventure racing (18 percent), snowshoeing (17.4 percent, off-road triathlon (10.6 percent), whitewater kayaking (10.2 percent) and cross-country skiing (8 percent).

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