An Analysis of Perceived Constraints to Outdoor Recreation


  • Ramesh Ghimire University of Georgia
  • Gary T. Green University of Georgia
  • Neelam C. Poudyal University of Tennessee
  • H. Ken Cordell Southern Research Station


ethnic minorities, marginalized groups, outdoor recreation, perceived barriers/constraints, underparticipation


Outdoor recreation has been an integral part of American life for many decades. While overall participation in outdoor recreation is expected to grow with the population, participation per capita is expected to decline partly because of projected structural change in sociodemographics in future. Previous studies have revealed a significant variation among ethnic and marginalized groups in terms of their interest in and constraints toward participating in outdoor recreation. However, due to limited sample size and geographic coverage, many studies often failed to examine the perceived constraints faced by these ethnic and marginalized groups. This study, taking advantage of a national level household survey, analyzed whether ethnic minorities—African-Americans, American-Indians, Asians, and native Hawaiians—and marginalized groups, such as rural dwellers, females, and older people in American society perceived more constraints to outdoor recreation activities than their counterparts (Whites, urban dwellers, males, and younger people). Seventeen constraints related to health, safety, socioeconomic standing, and other personal or psychological factors were examined employing logistic regression model. Results indicated ethnic minorities, older people, females, and rural dwellers perceived more constraints to outdoor recreation than their respective counterparts. Comparing these results to an earlier study, marginalized groups in American society perceive more constraints today than a decade ago to outdoor recreation. Hence, outdoor recreation planning and management agencies may utilize these findings to help enhance their understanding of the limitations and barriers to outdoor recreation encountered by different sociodemographic and ethnic groups. Furthermore, as many of these constraints were related to personal safety, language, money, time, and transport, agencies may have the ability to help ameliorate many of these constraints through localized actions. For instance, the personal safety constraint may be addressed by making recreation sites physically safer (i.e., better lighting, promoting a user buddy system). Language-related constraints could be reduced by making information available in multiple languages. Some money-related constraints may be addressed by adopting discriminating prices policies to different visitors. Timeand transport-related constraints may be somewhat addressed by connecting public parks and recreation sites to public transport routes. As the share of ethnic minorities and elderly people in American population is expected to increase in the future, innovation in outreach, marketing, and recruitment may be needed to increase their participation to outdoor recreation.






Regular Papers