NatureScot/Scottish Government Commissioned Research

Key messages

The research highlights some key factors that may have played a role in increasing participation in outdoor recreation in Scotland:

  • patterns laid down in childhood
  • trying outdoor activities as a result of friends or family
  • greater leisure time being available at particular life-stages
  • an increase in dog ownership
  • advice from health professionals
  • technological advances (such as apps and smartwatches)
  • the establishment of more activity-based social groups.

Guiding principles

A set of guiding principles that could help to sustain participation in outdoor activities, and in some cases to widen participation among lower participation groups, were developed on the basis of the research findings using the MAPPS behaviour change framework. These guiding principles can be used to inform the design of interventions to help increase participation in outdoor activities in future.

  • Childhood experiences can strongly influence sustained participation in outdoor activities in adulthood.
  • Availability of good quality, easy to access local spaces helps to facilitate regular participation, while a lack of these can be a barrier in more deprived areas.
  • The physical infrastructure and maintenance of outdoor spaces affects their accessibility, appeal and usage.

Full report here