Norwegians exercise more than before
Culture and recreation;Social conditions, welfare and crime
fritid, Sports and outdoor activities, survey on living conditions, exercise, training, hiking, outdoor activities (for example bathing, hiking, fishing), sports (for example swimming, football, skiing), recreational activitiesLiving conditions , Sports and outdoor recreation , Culture and recreation, Social conditions, welfare and crime

Sports and outdoor activities, survey on living conditions


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Key figures

83 %

exercise or train at least once a week

Percentage participated in various activities during the last 12 months.
On a shorter trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains8179
On a shorter trip skiing in the forest or in the mountains4239
On berry-picking or mushroom-picking3734
On fishing trip4543
 2 0132 016
Strength training3940
Exercise or train at least once a week8283

About the statistics

The statistics cover the population’s participation in sports and outdoor activities, such as skiing, hunting and football. The statistics is based on the survey on living conditions EU-SILC.


Definitions of the main concepts and variables

Sports and physical activity

Group exercise classes, aerobics, yoga etc.:

Group exercise classes and yoga were included in this question in the 2016 survey. In earlier surveys the phrasing was “aerobics and gymnastics classes or similar”


Refers to cycling trips with the intention of exercising, not as a means for transport.

Organised dance:

Prior to 2007, the phrasing was “folk/ballroom dancing, (jazz) ballet”

Tennis, squash or badminton:

Prior to 2013, this question only included tennis/squash.

Spinning, exercise on treadmill or other gym equipment:

This question only includes endurance training with gym equipment.

Other kinds of athletics or training:

The percentage that report participating in other activities varies between surveys, depending on how well the preceding questions capture the types of physical activities of the population.


Outdoor activities

Longer trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains:

This includes trips over three hours in duration.

Shorter trip for hikes in the forest or in the mountains:

This includes trips with a duration of less than three hours.

Standard classifications


Persons are grouped by age at the beginning of the year for the completion of the main part of the interview.

Area of residence

Persons are grouped according to sparsely populated areas or densely populated areas of different size. Sparsely populated areas include clusters of houses with less than 200 inhabitants. Densely populated areas include areas with 200 inhabitants or more, and a distance between houses – as a main rule – of not more than 50 metres.  


The regions include the following counties:

Oslo and Akershus

Eastern Norway excluding Oslo and Akershus: Østfold, Vestfold, Hedmark, Oppland, Buskerud and Telemark

Agder and Rogaland: Aust-Agder, Vest-Agder and Rogaland

Western Norway: Hordaland, Sogn og Fjordane, Møre og Romsdal

Trøndelag: Sør-Trøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag

Northern Norway: Nordland, Troms and Finnmark.


Family cycle phase

Persons are grouped mainly by age, marital status and whether the person has children. There is a distinction between singles and couples, where couples include both married couples and cohabitants. The concept “single person” does not necessarily refer to persons living alone in the household.

The groups with children consist of persons living with their own child(ren) (including stepchildren and adopted children) aged 0-19 years in the household.


Highest level of attained education divided into four levels: below upper secondary level, upper secondary level, short tertiary education and long tertiary education.

Economic status

This variable covers the person's own perception of the main activity on the date of interview. This differs from the ILO definition, which has a predefined classification of economic status.

Working full time: includes employees and the self-employed

Working part time: includes employees and the self-employed


Student, pupil, further training, unpaid work experience: includes persons in vocational training and military service

In retirement

Permanently disabled or/and unfit to work

Fulfilling domestic tasks and care responsibilities

Administrative information

Name and topic

Name: Sports and outdoor activities, survey on living conditions
Topic: Culture and recreation

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Responsible division

Division for Social Welfare Statistics

Regional level

National, regional and residential area.

Frequency and timeliness

The Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC is carried out annually. From 2011 onwards, the survey consists of a set of core questions and theme sections with rotating topics. The topics are repeated in a cycle of three years. Sports and physical activities was the topic in 2013 and 2016. Outdoor activities, organisational activity, political participation and social networks were topics in the 2011, 2014 and 2017 surveys. The third rotating topic is about housing conditions and offences and fear of crime. There are separate surveys of health, care and social relations and work (since 2015 every six years) and working conditions (every three years).

International reporting

In 2011, the data collection of the national topics in the Survey on Living Conditions was merged with the Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). EU-SILC is a European sample survey of income, social exclusion and living conditions that is coordinated through the EU's statistics agency Eurostat, and anchored in the European Statistical System (ESS). Cross-sectional and panel files are sent to Eurostat annually. EU-SILC microdata is available to researchers and students through Eurostat.


Data files with results from the interviews and statistical files with coded variables, linked information and weights are stored. Anonymised files are also available for researchers through the NSD - Norwegian Centre for Research Data.


Background and purpose

The Survey on Living Conditions has two main purposes. One is to shed light on the main aspects of living conditions in the Norwegian population. The other is to monitor the developments in living conditions, both in terms of levels and distribution. Over a three-year period the survey covers all main areas of the living conditions.

From 1973 to 1995, Statistics Norway carried out six general surveys named Surveys of Level of Living. These surveys included household economy, housing conditions, leisure activities, social relations, offences and fear of crime, health, care, education, employment and working conditions.

In 1996, a coordinated system of surveys was introduced. The system consisted of annual surveys with a set of rotating topics and an annual panel survey. Work environment was the theme in 1996, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2009. Housing, leisure activities and victims of crime were topics in 1997, 2001, 2004 and 2007. Health care and social relations were topics in 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2008. The annual panel survey covered some important main topics.

A new system of surveys of living conditions was introduced in 2011. A key objective of the new system was to improve the harmonisation with international requirements connected to EU-SILC. To a large degree, the new system covers earlier topics, in addition to new themes that illuminate political participation, social networks and financial and social problems.

In addition to the regular surveys, Statistics Norway has conducted externally commissioned surveys on living conditions in selected segments of the population.

Users and applications

The main users are government ministries, directorates, and research communities in the areas of working environment, health care, housing, leisure and local environment and living conditions in general.

Data from the survey is also widely used by the media and the general public.

Equal treatment of users

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on ssb.no at 8.00 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar. This is one of Statistics Norway’s key principles for ensuring that all users are treated equally.

Coherence with other statistics

The concept of living conditions covers a very wide range of topics. Statistics on living conditions are therefore associated with many other statistics.

Information on housing is also available in the annual dwelling stock statistics. The Population and Housing Census enables breakdowns at a more detailed geographical level. Some information from the Population and Housing Census 2001 was applied in the Survey on Living Conditions on housing conditions in 2001. The Survey of Consumer Expenditure also has issues on housing conditions, including a more detailed summary of most kinds of housing expenditures.

Information on employment is collected from several sources. The Labour Force Survey is an important source and provides information that supplements the information in the study of living conditions, e.g. training in the workplace, weekend work, working arrangements and the attachment of the disabled to the labour market. Some records, such as the employee/employer registry, sick leave registry etc. are also relevant. The information in these registers can also be utilised in the Survey on Living Conditions.

Information on wealth and income is retrieved from registry data. Furthermore, data on some demographic variables and data on education and social benefits are provided from registers.

The topic leisure activities no longer includes information about cultural activities. This can be obtained from the Cultural and Media Use Surveys conducted by Statistics Norway and from different cultural statistics.

Legal authority

Voluntary survey.

EEA reference




The population is residents aged 16 years and over not living in institutions.

Data sources and sampling

Data sources are interview data from representative sample surveys and various associated registries.

The gross sample for the Survey on Living Conditions, EU-SILC comprises approximately 11 500 individuals.

The sample is drawn according to the procedures for random selection.

Collection of data, editing and estimations

Data collection is mainly done by telephone (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview CATI), and in some cases the interviewer visits the interviewee (Computer Assisted Personal Interview CAPI). Data collection for the Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC mainly occurs from January to May in the year of interview.

The interview takes place using a computer-based questionnaire. The questionnaire includes various controls to prevent incorrect answers or registration errors during the interview. In some cases, the interviewer receives warnings for the registered response. In other cases, there is a limit on values that cannot be exceeded. Moreover, it verifies that only valid codes are recorded.

Surveys that collect information on industry and occupation are encoded by Statistics Norway.

The sample consists of people. The analysis unit is primarily a person, but can in some cases be a household. Using the household as the unit of analysis requires the use of weights.

Seasonal adjustment

Not relevant


Statistics Norway has guidelines for merging data from different data sources (registers) for statistical purposes. The guidelines are based on Statistics Norway's authorisation given by The Norwegian Data Protection Authority, and the Statistics Act. According to these guidelines, responses given in surveys can only be used for the purpose of producing statistics, i.e. information concerning groups of people will be given, but not individuals. When survey data files are linked to registers, encryption techniques are used in order to ensure that persons cannot be identified from the survey or register information in the merged data file.

Comparability over time and space

Sports and physical activities has been a topic in the Survey on Living Conditions in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2016. To a large extent, the same questions have been posed, although some changes have been made between surveys. Sometimes questions have been added or omitted, or the phrasing of questions has been altered. Since 2001, the question about exercise frequency has specified that frequency should refer to activity level during the season if the interviewee only participated in seasonal activities. In 1997 there was no such condition. In 1997 and 2001, the questions on types of sports and exercise activities were only posed to interviewees that exercised at least once a month. In 1997 and 2001, the questions on physical activity were posed in a postal questionnaire, whereas subsequent surveys mainly used telephone interviews.

Changes in the phrasing of questions are further described below, under “Definitions”.

In the surveys on sports and physical activities, the main sample consists of persons aged 16 or more. In 1997, 2001, 2007 and 2013 there was an additional sample of children aged 6-15 years.

Outdoor activities and organisational activity were topics in the Survey on Living Conditions in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2017. Political participation and social network were introduced as topics in 2011. The topics outdoor activities, organisational activity, political participation and social network partly build on earlier topics in the Survey on Living Conditions. Some time series on outdoor activities and organisational activity can be traced back to the Survey on level of living from the years 1980-1995.

The Survey on Living Conditions on housing conditions is partly based on earlier surveys on housing conditions. The first was conducted in 1967, followed by similar surveys in 1973, 1981, 1988 and 1995. Some time series can also be traced back to the general surveys on living conditions in 1980-1995.

The Survey on Living Conditions on offences and fear of crime is based on the general surveys on living conditions. The first time this survey included questions about this topic was in 1983.

The Survey on Living Conditions on work environment is based partly on the earlier surveys on working environment in 1989 and 1993. Some time series can thus be traced back to 1989. In recent years, major revisions were made in 2006 and 2009. In some areas, time series are therefore short.

The Survey on Living Conditions on health, care and social relations was merged with the European Health Interview survey (EHIS) in 2015. The Survey on Living Conditions on health is partly based on Statistics Norway’s health surveys. The first was conducted in 1968, followed by surveys in 1975, 1985 and 1995. Some time series can also be traced back to the general surveys on living conditions in 1980-1995. The topics care and social relations are primarily based on the general surveys on living conditions, and several time series can be traced back to 1980.

Accuracy and reliability

Sources of error and uncertainty

Non-response errors

The gross sample for the survey is drawn in order to reflect the whole population, however, because non-response is not equally distributed, the net sample will not be fully representative. This bias will vary for the relevant groups and variables. In order to adjust for some of the biases, the data is weighted for gender, age, education and family size.

Sampling errors

Uncertainty of data based on only a part of the population is often called sampling variance. The standard deviation is a measure of this uncertainty. The size of the standard deviation partly depends on the number of observations in the sample, and on the distribution of a variable in the whole population.

Statistics Norway has not made exact calculations of standard deviation of the data. However, in table 1, the approximate size of the standard deviation is given for a selection of observed percentages.

To illustrate the uncertainty associated with a percentage, we can use an interval to give the level of the true value of an estimated quantity (the value obtained if making an observation on the whole population instead of an observation based on part of the population). Such intervals are called confidence intervals if constructed in a special way. In this connection, the following method can be applied: let M be the estimated quantity, and S the estimate of standard deviation of M. The confidence interval will be an interval with limits (M - 2*S) and (M + 2*S). This method will give an interval containing the true value, with approximately 95 per cent probability.

The following example illustrates the use of table 1 for finding confidence intervals: The estimate of standard deviation of 70 per cent is 3.2 when the estimate is based on 300 observations. The confidence interval for the true value has limits 70 ± 2*3.2, which means the interval is from 63.6 to 76.4 per cent.

Table 1. Standard deviation in per cent


Not relevant