Rural Recreation Lifestyles: Trends in Recreation Activity Patterns and Self-Reported Quality of Life and Health—An Exploratory Study


  • Rodney Warnick


Residency, recreation trends, lifestyles, quality of life, quality of health, and activity participation.


An exploratory study was undertaken to determine the trends in rural residents’ recreational activity patterns from 1979 to 1998 and their self-reported quality of life and health for the most recent year—1998. In addition, selected activities were grouped into activity pattern lifestyles and the relationships between residency and self-reported quality of life and health were explored. Quality of life was measured by level of agreement to nine self-reported statements and 10 self-reported statements measured quality of health. While activity trend patterns were examined for 18 different activities, the change in activity interest for rural residents indicated growth in participation among 13 activities and 11 of these activities grew at rates exceeding the national population change rate. In the 90s, participation rates increased among rural residents for 15 of 18 activities. Activities with the largest growth rates in the 90s among rural residents were: backpacking, snowmobiling, hunting, saltwater fishing, hiking, freshwater fishing and horseback riding and activities. Activities with decreased participation rates in the 90s were ice skating, downhill skiing and water skiing. Recreation lifestyles (i.e., community, resource, water and winter-based activities) were further examined for the study year 1998 by quality of life and health. Relationships between residency and self-reported quality of life and health existed when active lifestyles were controlled (i.e., participated in any of the individual group activities versus not participating in group activities). The relationships between residency and self-reported quality of life and health revealed a number of unique relationships. Rural residents who participated in golf, tennis and fitness walking (a community-based activity lifestyle) were the most diverse in their quality of life statements. Enjoying time with family was consistently a higher priority among rural residents across all lifestyles than for metro residents. Even though rural residents were active, they were also consistently more concerned about their personal health. Metro residents reported being more consistent in a regular exercise routine. Implications for rural recreation planners and programmers are discussed.





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