In Occitania, one in two inhabitants practices nature sports

It is a study of the Injep that is good. Walking, jogging, hiking, swimming in open water, etc., nature sports are in vogue. Freedom, autonomy. Leaving consecutive incarcerations is part of this breath of fresh air, according to one study.

Behind this all-encompassing word we often speak of nature sports, (outdoor in English), “it is any sport activity that takes place outdoors without the need for any equipment” specific sport and taking advantage of the natural environment by possibly making some adjustments”, explains Bruno Dietsch of the National Institute for Youth and People’s Education (Injep) in his study (1) that describes the practice and practice of outdoor sports in 2020, with the last known figures.

A stable practice according to a study

What are the results? First, half of the French have practiced at least one leisure or outdoor sport (list below). And “the most practiced natural sports are in France: walking, running and cycling (…) Between 2018 and 2020, the practice of natural sports is stable. As in 2018, in 2020 (excluding confinement), 77% of athletes practiced at least one outdoor sport or leisure activity within the meaning of the Annex, or 50% of the entire population (51% in 2018). On the other hand, in 2020, of all sports enthusiasts, 48% indicate that their main activity is mainly in the open air (36% in the open air and 12% in the open air).

And Bruno Dietsch to specify that, Occitanie’s figures are cousins ​​to those of the hexagon. “The practice of outdoor sports, with 76% of athletes in general, seems to be increasing and almost reaching the national level (77%). This corresponds to 48% of the total population of this region. In 2018, these percentages were 71% (respectively 46%)”, he details. when it comes to the most popular nature sports in Occitania: “They are the same as nationally with slightly lower rates: 39% spread rate of the running and walking universe within the population, 13% for cycling and swimming (including the pool)”, confides in Bruno Dietsch once again.

A slightly less autonomous practice in Occitania

With a special feature in our region: “The practice of outdoor sports appears to be slightly less autonomous than at the national level (beware, these data should be commented with caution because they concern few respondents). 82% of regular outdoor sports practitioners in 2020 declared at least one self-employed practice as part of their regular activities (compared to 88% nationwide).

That’s not all : 63% of these practitioners in Occitania have at least one autonomous practice among their nature activities (compared to 70% at the national level). And 44% rely on a trainer or educator (the same order of magnitude as nationally) for at least one of their sports activities, even occasionally. Finally, about 39% of them would carry out one of their sports activities within the framework of a club or association, with an order of magnitude of 30% at the national level.

Running and walking come first

Of the lessons to be learned from this survey, outdoor running and walking are most practiced by the French (40% and 41%); swimming training fell from 17% in 2018 to 13% in 2020. “A drop that affected both swimming and outdoor training. Probably a result of the Covid crisis”, notes the Injep. In detail, walking was the most widely practiced nature activity in 2020 (25% of the population had practiced it in the past 12 months), followed by running (16%), swimming (13%), cycling (9%) and mountain hiking. cycling (8%).

70% of practitioners outside clubs

In terms of modes, independent practice remains in the majority in France and continues to make progress: only 30% of outdoor sport practitioners do it within a club (compared to 41% of regular practitioners of indoor activities only) . A percentage that was 37% in 2018. And only 13% of walkers use guidance compared to 75% of riders.

only with “Community Applications”.

These sports are often practiced alone, “but increasingly with community applications, even if their use remains in the minority”, further specifies the Injep. “In terms of conviviality, by 2020, 45% of regular outdoor sports enthusiasts will do this alone first, reaching the extreme values ​​for the main activities for jogging (71%) and for alpine skiing (14%), which seems to stem from the nature of these activities.”

Youtuber, tutorial on the net…

In addition to practicing independently, in a club or in a commercial structure, today there are also other forms of supervised practice using communication technologies, with different applications such as Strava, Garmin Connect, etc. or by following the instructions of a youtuber ( eg Tibo Inshape…), or by using a non-community application or a tutorial on the internet.

Preference for nature sports by income

Every level of life has its favorite nature sport. The activities most popular with lower-middle-class and low-income members are hiking (46% of nature athletes in this category), jogging (31%), swimming (including swimming, 20%), mountain biking (16%) and cycling (14%). Aside from the switch between mountain biking and road racing, the rankings in 2018 were the same.

For high-income and upper-middle-class people, these ratios are 57% for walking, 31% again for jogging, 23% for swimming, 21% for cycling and 16% for mountain biking; It can also be noted that alpine skiing accounts for 10% of this category, compared to about 3% for the lower incomes.

More horseback riding and hiking for women

Finally, horse riding and hiking are practiced more by women (71% of women among practitioners) and more by men on bicycles. Nordic walking (62%), athletic walking (57%) or swimming (53%) are the most feminine disciplines, while mountain biking (68% of men among practitioners) and cycling (57%) remain more typically masculine activities. Just like in 2018, two-thirds of outdoor athletes under the age of 40 will be practicing at least three (outdoor) sports in 2020. This percentage is about 50% in women and 47% in men.

Practice by age too!

The study also looked at the practice of age groups. Outdoor sports are available at all ages: 59% of French under 40s participate in outdoor sports, 40-59 year-olds 47% and 60 years and older than 41% (against 57%, 50% and 44%), respectively. % in 2018). More specifically, young people under 40 are overrepresented in activities such as horse riding (77% of practitioners in 2020, 71% in 2018), jogging (60% of practitioners in 2020, 56% in 2018), mountain biking (58% in 2020 , 50% in 2018), downhill skiing (51% in 2020, 48% in 2018).

Those under 40 have a “larger portfolio of practices and are more often omnivorous: in 2020, just like in 2018, two-thirds of outdoor athletes under the age of 40 will practice at least three sports (in nature or not)”.


(1) DIETSCH B., 2021, Outdoor sports in France. Milestones and Trends for 2020, INJEP Notes and Reports/Thematic Note.
(2) List of outdoor sports. Know : in blue, the universes or activities that are fully included in the list of outdoor sports, in black, which are partially included; in red, universes or activities completely excluded.