People took in the outdoors on the Eiranranta beach in Helsinki on Sunday, 11 April 2022. Finns developed an appreciation of nearby natural sites particularly at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study published by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


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

The study found that as many as 96 per cent of people engage in outdoor activities with at least some frequency, with the coronavirus pandemic boosting the appreciation of especially nearby recreational areas.

“Finns engage in outdoor activities on average 3 times a week and 182 times a year. Women engage in outdoor activities slightly more actively than men,” summarised Marjo Neuvonen, the project manager at Luke.

According to the study, roughly 30 per cent of recreational activities took place in areas located no more than 300 metres from home and 85 per cent in areas located no more than 1,000 metres from 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 engaged in outdoor activity. “Finns had around 18 per cent more recreational outdoor activities in surveys carried out in the spring and summer of 2020 than in surveys carried out before the pandemic or in 2021,” she revealed.

The main reasons for exploring the nearby nature are maintaining physical fitness, recovering from stress and relaxing, and enjoying the peace and quiet of nature.

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

Around 80 per cent of people said they walked in nature in 2020, representing an increase of 11 percentage points from 2000. Among the other popular outdoor activities are swimming, berry-picking, cycling and staying at a cottage, with more than half of 15–80-year-olds reporting to have engaged in them.

Emerging activities that are enjoyed by roughly half of the population include nature observation, painting, photography and birdwatching.

“Alongside relatively short walks in nearby environment, the popularity of longer day trips and trips that include at least a night’s stay has increased. In 2020, day trips were made by 37 per cent of Finns, whereas in 2000 the share was roughly 23 per cent,” told Neuvonen.

The results of the study also reflect the emergence of new outdoor pastimes, with about 20 per cent saying they enjoy disc golf, 18 per cent trail or cross-country running, and 12 per cent stand-up paddle-boarding.

As the variety of recreational outdoor activities continues to grow, it could translate to recreational activities spreading to new natural areas.

“Good planning is a means to safeguard the preservation of both natural values and the ability to enjoy the outdoors in a spacious and high-quality way. In the long term, only a sufficient offering of recreational sites and areas will make it possible to combine the various outdoors-related needs of people,” said Tyrväinen.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT