Nature visits during the COVID-19 pandemic in Norway

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, natural environments supported physical activity in the Norwegian population. Access to natural environments should be granted and promoted.

Background: The overarching situation surrounding the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been linked to increased mental health challenges in the population. Research has reported an increased frequency of nature visits during this period. However, this varied largely across different countries as well as individuals' sociodemographic characteristics, access to natural environments, and the restrictions to which they were subjected. Focusing on the case of Norway, a country with ample access to nature and relatively lose pandemic-related restrictions, this study sought to i) examine possible changes in the frequency of nature visits during the pandemic, ii) investigate how changes in nature visits varied in different population groups depending on the extent of the lockdown, and iii) explore the motives and facilitators underlying increased nature visits.

Methods: Data were retrieved from a national cross-sectional survey conducted in June 2021 by Ipsos MMI on behalf Norsk Friluftsliv, an umbrella organization of outdoor recreation in Norway. The survey contained information on nature visits and related beliefs after the announcement of the first lockdown (March 2020) for a sample representative of the Norwegian adult population (age ≥15 yr.; n = 1005).

Results: There was an overall increased frequency of nature visits, with 32% of respondents reporting that they visited nature more frequently, while 11% reported less frequent visits and 57% reported unchanged habits. Multivariate logistic regression showed that the likelihood of reporting increased nature visits increased with increasing extent of the lockdown (OR [95% CI] = 2.35 [1.28–4.29] and 4.92 [2.77–8.74] for “A few weeks” and “Several months”, respectively, compared to “Almost non-existent”). Moreover, increased nature visits were more likely among women (1.83 [1.35–2.47]) and younger adults (15-34 yr.; 1.91 [1.32–2.75]), while no associations were found with respect to educational level, household income, or residential centrality. Among those who reported increased nature visits, the most common motives were "To keep physically active" (74%) and "Meeting friends and family" (48%), while the most frequently reported facilitators were the possibility of using natural environments as an alternative to gyms and organized sports (58%) alongside having more time available (49%).

Conclusions: In Norway, nature visits provided opportunities for physical activity during the COVID-19 crisis, alleviating the health and wellbeing challenges associated with restricted access to gyms and sports facilities, social distancing, and generally increased stress. The findings corroborate the public health significance of policies protecting and facilitating access to natural environments.


Giovanna Calogiuri 1,2, Sigbjørn Litleskare 2


Livskvalitet, mangfold og inkludering - Fritid og kultur




1 University of South-Eastern Norway, 2) Høgskolen i Innlandet



Presenterende forfatter(e):

Giovanna Calogiuri

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