Outdoor activities remain a key feature of the Finnish way of life

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES remain a central feature of Finnish lifestyles, according to a study published last week by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

The study found that up to 96% of people engage in outdoor activities with at least some frequency, with the coronavirus pandemic boosting appreciation for nearby recreation areas in particular.

“Finns practice outdoor activities on average 3 times a week and 182 times a year. Women engage in outdoor activities a little more actively than men,” sums up Marjo Neuvonenproject manager at Luke.

According to the study, about 30% of recreational activities took place in areas within 300 meters of home and 85% in areas within 1,000 meters of home.

Liisa Tyrväinen, a research professor at Luke, said the onset of the pandemic increased the number of outdoor activities among people who were already doing outdoor activities. “Finns had about 18% more outdoor recreational activities in surveys conducted in spring and summer 2020 than in surveys conducted before the pandemic or in 2021,” she revealed.

The main reasons for exploring the surrounding nature are to maintain physical fitness, recover from stress and relax, and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.

The most common form of outdoor activity, meanwhile, is walking.

Around 80% of people reported walking in nature in 2020, an increase of 11 percentage points from 2000. Other popular outdoor activities include swimming, berry picking, bicycling and staying in a chalet, with more than half of 15-80 year olds declaring that they have done so.

Emerging activities enjoyed by about half of the population include nature observation, painting, photography and bird watching.

“Along with relatively short walks in close surroundings, the popularity of longer day trips and trips including at least one overnight stay has increased. In 2020, day trips were taken by 37% of Finns, while in 2000 the share was around 23%,” Neuvonen said.

The survey results also reflect the emergence of new outdoor hobbies, with around 20% saying they enjoy disc golf, 18% trail or cross-country and 12% stand-up paddleboarding.

As the variety of outdoor recreational activities continues to grow, this could result in the extension of recreational activities to new natural areas.

“Good planning is a means of safeguarding both the preservation of natural values ​​and the possibility of enjoying the outdoors in a spacious and high-quality way. In the long term, only a sufficient supply of sites and recreation areas will combine people’s different outdoor needs,” said Tyrväinen.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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Richard V. Johnson