Enviro Fact Sheet

Canadians and Nature: Outdoor activities, 2013

Canadians and Nature: Outdoor activities, 2013

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Canadian households often use natural areas in their neighbourhood for outdoor activities. These activities can be organized, such as team sports like baseball or hockey, or individual activities, such as bicycling or cross-country skiing.

The concept of “close to home” is subjective and often depends on the activity in question. For example, going to a park five minutes away from home to go jogging would likely be considered by many respondents as “close to home,” while driving half an hour to go downhill skiing might also be considered “close to home.” On the other hand, someone who has to travel half an hour to go jogging would likely not consider that as “close to home.” In the Households and the Environment Survey, the definition of “close to home” was generally left to the respondent to decide. However, if they asked for a definition, respondents were asked to consider a destination within a 10-minute walk or drive.

Regardless of the type of activity, almost three out of four Canadian households (72%) reported that someone in the household had participated in outdoor activities close to home. Households in Nova Scotia were most likely to have done so (84%), and those in Quebec were the least likely with 67% of households reporting this.

The age composition of a household can influence the level of physical activity of its members. Seniors-only households, for example, were among the least likely to have participated in outdoor activities close to their home (56%). Households with children were the most active (84%), followed closely by households composed of adults and both children and teens (82%).

Some activities can be relatively expensive due to the cost of specialized equipment and program or user fees, while others cost very little, if anything at all. Households’ participation in outdoor activities close to home increased as the annual income increased, from 56% for those with annual incomes of less than $20,000 to 88% for households with annual incomes of $150,000 or more.

Specific outdoor activities

Respondents to the 2013 Households and the Environment Survey were asked about the activities in which they participated. A list of activities was created based on the most frequently reported activities (see text box). In some cases, similar activities have been grouped together for analytical purposes.

Selected outdoor activities

Outdoor activities reported by Canadian households

  • Walking
  • Jogging, running, rollerblading, cross-country running
  • Hiking
  • Football, soccer, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, baseball, rugby, lacrosse, ultimate (frisbee), ball/road hockey
  • Golfing, croquet, lawn darts, lawn bowling, bocci
  • Boating, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, rowing, dragonboating, seadooing
  • Swimming, going to the beach, surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling
  • Bicycling
  • All-terrain vehicle (ATV)
  • Skiing, snowboarding, telemark
  • Snowmobiling
  • Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking, barbecue
  • Skating
  • Ice hockey, broomball, curling
  • Bird watching, photography
  • Exercise, tai chi, aerobics, yoga
  • Go to the park/playground
  • Mountain climbing
  • Tobogganing, sliding
  • Geocaching
  • Badminton, tennis


The most frequently reported activity done close to home was walking, with 54% of households in Canada reporting this. Households in Prince Edward Island (71%) and Nova Scotia (70%) were most likely to have reported going for walks close to home, while those in Quebec (50%) were the least likely.


Slightly more than 2 out of 10 (22%) households reported bicycling close to home. Households in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta (27%, 26%, and 25%, respectively) were the most likely to have reported this. Households in Newfoundland and Labrador (11%E) were the least likely.

Skiing and snowboarding

Downhill skiing and snowboarding were reported by 4% of Canadian households. This type of activity was reported slightly more frequently by households in British Columbia (6%) and Quebec (5%) than it was by households in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Ontario (2 to 3%), but in most cases the differences between the various provinces are so small that they are not statistically significant.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing

Four percent of Canadian households reported going cross-country skiing or snowshoeing close to home. Households in Quebec (8%) were significantly more likely to have done one of the activities in this group than households in most of the other provinces.


Three percent of households reported that they went camping close to home in 2013. Compared to households in eastern Canada, households in western Canada were more likely to have reported this activity. The likelihood a household went camping increased with income. Households at the low end of the income scale were about half as likely to have gone camping as those at the high end of the income scale. The presence of children and/or teens in a household tended to increase the likelihood that a household had gone camping close to home.

Chart 1 Households that participated in outdoor activities close to home, 2013

Description for Chart 1

Start of text box

About the Households and the Environment Survey

The Households and the Environment Survey asks Canadian households about their activities and behaviours with respect to the environment. It covers a wide variety of topics including water and energy consumption and conservation, hazardous products used in the home, and the household’s interactions with nature. Data from the survey are used by governments to guide policies and programs, by researchers to learn more about Canadians and by individuals to see how they compare to the rest of the country.

The target population of the 2013 Households and the Environment Survey consisted of households in Canada, excluding households located in Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, households located on Indian Reserves or Crown lands, and households consisting entirely of full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Institutions and households in certain remote regions were also excluded.

End of text box

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3881. Available in CANSIM: tables 153-0153 to 153-0155. For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

Related topics: Canadian Nature Survey, Environment Canada. []

Date modified: