Recreation and parks play an important role in the developing sustainable communities and enhancing the quality of life of all Pennsylvanians. While people like to be outdoors just for the enjoyment of the natural environment, people also participate in outdoor recreation to obtain a variety of benefits -- economic, physiological, environmental, and social.
Understanding the recreational behaviors of the state’s population is essential if Pennsylvania is to effectively balance the outdoor recreation demands of its people with its responsibility to protect and restore its natural resources.
Studies show that many Pennsylvanians are active outdoor recreationists and frequently participate in a variety of outdoor activities on both public and private lands and waters. They also hold definite preferences in regard to their state’s outdoor future.
Parks or trails account for a notable portion of Pennsylvanians’ physical activity. Nearly three-fourths of survey respondents indicated that they walk or ride a bike in the neighborhood. Areas managed by local and county government account for the largest portion (43%) of away-from-home outdoor recreation activity.
Pennsylvanians clearly view outdoor recreation as an enjoyable way to improve their health and well being. Typical health-related responses included benefits such exercise, physical fitness, relaxation, mental health, stress relief and piece of mind.
Interestingly, place-related benefits such as experiencing nature, fresh air and enjoying the outdoors are listed as important by many Pennsylvanians as well as social benefits, such as spending time with family and being with others.
Most importantly, Pennsylvanians also see themselves as partners with government in conserving natural resources and landscapes. They place a high value on outdoor places and activities and view these resources as an important component of a healthy lifestyle and the health of their community.