Environmental considerations concerning physical activity and health relate to accessibility, and this accessibility is directly influenced by how recreation areas and facilities are provided and managed. This study aims to provide some evidence to support the general argument that a good supply of recreation opportunities encourages people's participation in outdoor recreation. The study's data are compiled from an outdoor recreation survey of Finnish 15- to 74-year olds, conducted between 1998 and 2000, which focused on the recreational behaviour of people living in Helsinki (n=367), and their visits to close-to-home outdoor recreation areas. Almost all (97%) of the Helsinki residents surveyed participated in outdoor recreation during the year. Half of them embarked on a recreational outing daily or every other day. The most typical close-to-home activity was walking for pleasure or fitness. Other popular activities were cycling, jogging, dog walking and outings with children. Physical or fitness activities represented about 90% of all close-to-home outings. Those who lived in the suburbs of Helsinki participated in close-to-home recreation significantly more often than those living in the city centre, and had done so more recently in terms of when the survey was conducted. The amount of green areas in the vicinity of the participant's residence and the short distance to green areas suitable for recreational use increased the number of close-to-home outings among Helsinki residents. This supports the argument that a good provision of opportunities promotes an active lifestyle. Thus, recreation areas and facilities should be located close to residential areas, and provide safe, comfortable and year-round access for daily outings. © 2007 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
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