Information and Advisory Note Number 144 Back to menu
1.1 Active recreation in the countryside, urban green spaces and around the coast is an opportunity to enjoy the natural heritage and to keep fit and healthy. Participants' expenditure can bring economic benefits to rural areas.
2.1 MacGregor & Martin (1999) analysed data on sports participation collected
between 1987 and 1998. The proportion of adults taking part in outdoor
activities (walking, cycling, fishing, hill-walking, horse-riding, sailing or
skiing) during the four weeks prior to interview increased from 41% in 1987-89
to 46% in 1996-98 (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Percentage of adult population participating in outdoor activities. Source: MacGregor & Martin (1999)
2.2.1 Walking was consistently the most popular activity considered by MacGregor & Martin (1999). In 1987-89, one quarter of adults had participated in the four weeks prior to interview. This decreased to 19% in 1990-92 but rose again to 26% in 1996-98. For this last period, about half (51%) of those participating claimed to do so more than twice a week on average.
2.2.2 More detailed surveys of walking in the countryside were carried out by SNH in 1990 and 1995. In each case, 55% of those interviewed claimed to have been for a walk in the countryside or along the coast in the last year. Some 33% of those interviewed in 1995 claimed to walk at least once a month, compared to 30% in 1990 (System Three Scotland, 1991, 1996).
2.2.3 The results of the UK Day Visits Surveys also illustrate the importance of walking as a leisure activity. It was consistently the main activity on 30% of leisure visits made to the countryside by Scottish adults 1994-1998.
2.3.1 MacGregor & Martin (1999) showed that participation in cycling as a leisure activity, during the four weeks prior to interview, increased from 6% in 1987-89 to 9% in 1996-98.
2.3.2 A more detailed survey of cycling shows that total participation, including cycling as a form of transport, is higher than this, and
demonstrates a seasonal trend (System Three Scotland, 1999a). Some 13% of adults interviewed in February had cycled during the last eight weeks, compared to 17% in April and 21% in August.
2.3.3 For 55% of adults who cycled, leisure was the most important reason for using a cycle, with keeping fit (23%) the second most important reason.
2.3.4 Both cycling and walking are important modes of transport, as well as being amongst the best forms of exercise.
• Between 1993 and 1996, walking was the second most frequent mode of travel, accounting for 32% of all journeys. (Scottish Office, 1998).
• 21 % of cyclists interviewed by System Three Scotland (1999a) gave travel to work, college or for other business reasons as the main use of their cycle.
2.4.1 MacGregor & Martin (1999) showed that participation is fairly constant, with 1% of the population riding in the four weeks prior to interview between 1987 and 1998.
2.4.2 This underestimates the proportion of the population who consider themselves to be riders. System Three Scotland (1999b) estimated that 14-19% of Scottish adults have at some point been horse-riders, with 3% continuing to ride. Most of those who have ridden are lapsed, with 40% not having ridden in the last five years, and a further 15-20% not having ridden in the last two years.
2.5.1 Canoeing, including open Canadian, is a popular recreational activity, particularly amongst school and youth organisations. Most recreational canoeing takes place on sheltered inland waters, but more experienced canoeists prefer the rivers. It is difficult to find reliable trends in participation, as much activity is informal, taking place outside of organised clubs. However, membership of the Scottish Canoe Association has increased substantially since 1987, and now seems to be levelling out at about 2,100 members (Figure 2).
Figure 2 Membership of the Scottish Canoe Association. Source: Scottish Canoe Association.
3.1 sportscotland (formerly the Scottish Sports Council) have been gathering
data on participation in sport since 1987 (sportscotland, 1998), and this is now
the best long-term trend data available. MacGregor & Martin (1999) used this
data to look at trends in participation between 1987 and 1998.
3.2 More detailed surveys of walking, cycling and horse-riding were carried out by System Three Scotland for Scottish Natural Heritage (System Three Scotland, 1991, 1996, 1999a, 1999b).
3.3 The Scottish Canoe Association provided information on its membership figures.
MacGregor, C. & Martin, I. (1999). Sports Participation in Scotland 1998.
Scottish Office (1998). Scottish Transport Statistics. Edinburgh: Scottish Office.
System Three Scotland (1991). A Survey of Walking in the Countryside in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage Research Survey and Monitoring Report No. 3. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
System Three Scotland (1996). A Survey of Walking in the Countryside in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage Research Survey and Monitoring Report No. 11. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
System Three Scotland (1999a). Survey of Cycling in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage Research Survey and Monitoring Report No. 135. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
System Three Scotland (1999b). Survey of Horse Riding in Scotland. Scottish Natural Heritage Research Survey and Monitoring Report Number 136. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
Further detailed information on Natural Heritage Trends: Access and Recreation can be found in Information & Advisory Note No. 142.
To obtain further information about any of the issues raised in this l&A Note,
Ms Jeanette Hall (Author) or Mr Ed Mackey
Environmental Audit Group
Chief Scientist's Unit
Scottish Natural Heritage
2 Anderson Place
EDINBURGH EH6 5NP
Tel: 0131-446 2457
Fax: 0131-446 2405
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