Sports and outdoor activities, survey on living conditions

Updated: 28 October 2020

Next update: 8 December 2021

Have been on a shorter walk

Selected tables and figures from this statistics

About the statistics

The statistics cover participation in outdoor activities and exercise activities, such as hiking, fishing, jogging, team sports and yoga. The statistics is based on the Survey on Living Conditions EU-SILC.

Sports and physical activity

Cross-country skiing: Refers to skiing with the intention of exercising. Skiing in the forest or in the mountains are included is their purpose is exercise.

Biking: Refers to cycling trips with the intention of exercising. Biking as a means for transport if the purpose is also exercise.

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

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”.

Tennis, squash or badminton: Badminton was included in the question in 2013.

Spinning, exercise on treadmill or other gym equipment: This question covers spinning, exercise on treadmill or other endurance training by using other gym equipment.

Other kinds of athletics or training: Persons reporting that they take part in other physical activity than the ones that are specifically asked in the survey. 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.

Never exercise or train: Persons reporting that they never engage in physical activity to exercise.

Exercise or train at least once a week: Persons reporting that they engage in physical activity once a week or more often to exercise.

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.


Persons are grouped by their age at the start of the year in which the interviews were conducted.

Area of residence

Persons are grouped according to sparsely populated areas or densely populated areas of different sizes. 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 - not more than 50 meters. Densely populated areas are further divided into three groups based on population (below 20 000 inhabitants, 20 000-99 999, and above 100 000 inhabitants).


On January 1st 2020, the Norwegian counties were changed. Beginning in 2020, SSB divides the country as follows:

Oslo and Viken


Agder and South Eastern Norway: Vestfold and Telemark, Agder

Western Norway: Rogaland, Møre and Romsdal, Vestland


Northern Norway: Nordland, Troms and Finnmark

Before 2020, SSB divided the country into as follows:

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 and Romsdal

Trøndelag (Sør-Trøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag up to and including January 1st 2018).

Northern Norway: Nordland, Troms and Finnmark.

Family cycle phase

Persons are grouped by which phase of the family cycle they belong to, and this is based on the person’s age, marital status (single/in couple) and whether the person has children, and the youngest child’s age. The concept single persons do not necessarily refer to persons living alone in the household, but rather persons not living in a relationship (they can still live with others, as their parents or their children). Persons in a couple includes both married and unmarried couples. 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.


The respondent’s education level.

Below upper secondary level

Upper secondary level

Higher education, undergraduate degree

Higher education, graduate degree or higher

Economic status

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

Working full-time: employees and self-employed

Working part-time: employees and self-employed


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

In retirement

Permanently disabled and/or unfit to work

Fulfilling domestic tasks and care responsibilities

Name: Sports and outdoor activities, survey on living conditions

Topic: Culture and recreation

8 December 2021

Division for Income and social welfare statistics

Nationally representative. Results can be divided by county (as defined above in Region) and by population density (as defined above in Area of residence).

The survey on outdoor activities is part of the Norwegian Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC. From 2011 onwards the survey have consisted of a set of core questions that is repeated annually, and a theme sections with rotating topics that are repeated in a cycle of three years. The annual set of core questions covers household, housing, economy, health and employment. The theme section is this year on housing and housing conditions, and fear of crime. The two other theme sections are: Sports and physical activity, organizational activity, political participation and social networks (repeated next in 2020), and Housing conditions (repeated next in 2021). In addition to the annual core questions and the rotating themes, separate surveys of Health, care and social relations and Work and working conditions are repeated every three years. See “Background and purpose” for more information on the Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC.

The Norwegian Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC is coordinated 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).

The Norwegian Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC consists both of questions from EU-SILC that is collected throughout Europe, in addition to national modules (described above in the section “Frequency and timeliness”). Data from the EU-SILC questions is sent to Eurostat annually. Microdata on EU-SILC is made available for researchers and students through Eurostat. This includes cross-sectional and panel data.

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

(Norsk senter for forskningsdata - NSD).


The Norwegian Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC will give insight into the main aspects of and differences in living conditions, and follow their development over time. The Norwegian Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC will over a 3-year period be able to cover the major aspects of living conditions in the Norwegian population (when including the separate surveys of working conditions and health care and social contact as described in the section “Frequency and timeliness”).


The first surveys of living conditions in Norway were conducted six times between 1973 and 1995. These surveys shed light on the general components of living conditions; economics, housing conditions, leisure, social contact, health, education, employment and working conditions.

In 1996 a coordinated system of surveys was introduced. The system consisted of annual surveys with a repeating panel survey (EU-SILC from 2003) and a set of national rotating topics repeated every three years. The rotating topics were Work, Housing, leisure activities and victims of crime, Health care and social relations.

In 2011 the present system for surveying living conditions was introduced. A key objective of the new system was better coordination with international requirements connected to EU-SILC. National themes were coordinated with the European EU-SILC. The new system covers the presented topics from previous living condition surveys, in addition to new themes to illuminate political participation, social networks and economic and social problems.

In addition to the regular surveys of living conditions, Statistics Norway can on commission conduct individual surveys among selected groups.

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.

Apart from this the statistics serve as a basis for information to the public, media and others interested in the state and development of living conditions.

No external users have access to the statistics and analyses before they are published and accessible simultaneously for all users on at 08:00 am. Prior to this, a minimum of three months' advance notice is given in the Statistics Release Calendar.

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 from the Register-based housing conditions statistics. The register-based statistics makes it possible to look at geographical areas in more detail, but includes fewer variables and less information. The Survey of Consumer Expenditure has also issues on housing conditions, among other things 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 which provides some information that supplements the information from the Survey of Living Conditions, e.g. on training, work schedule (weekend work), and the workforce participation among disabled people. Some registers like the employee/employer registry, sick leave registry etc., are also relevant. The information in these registers can also be utilized in the Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC.

Income and wealth are added from the register information in the Income and wealth statistics. Some demographical information is also used, on education and social benefits.

Voluntary survey.


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

Data sources are interview data from the annual representative sample survey Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC, and various attached register information.

The net sample in the annual Survey of Living Conditions EU-SILC is made up of about 11,500 people.

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

Data collection is mainly conducted 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 occurs mainly 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.

In surveys where industry and occupation are collected, these are encoded by Statistics Norway.

The sample consists of persons. Analysis unit is primarily person, but in some cases household. Using the household as the unit of analysis requires the use of weights (read more about weights in the section on Accuracy and reliability).

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.

Sports and physical activity

Sports and physical activities has been a topic in the Survey on Living Conditions in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2016, and 2019. In the surveys on sports and physical activities, the main sample consists of persons aged 16 or more. In 2004, 2007 and 2013 there was an additional sample of children aged 6-15 years.

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”.

Outdoor activities

Outdoor activities were topics in the Survey on Living Conditions in 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2017. The topic outdoor activities partly build on earlier topics in the Survey on Living Conditions. Some time series on outdoor activities can be traced back to the Survey on level of living from the years 1980-1995. In the surveys on outdoor activities, the main sample consists of persons aged 16 or more. In 2004, 2007 and 2013 there was an additional sample of children aged 6-15 years.

Non-response errors

The gross sample is drawn to be representative for the Norwegian population, and consists of about 11 500 persons annually.

Not all persons in the gross sample participates in the survey. The persons who does not participate represent a non-response group in the sample. Because non-response differs unequally in different groups, the net sample will not be fully representative for the Norwegian population. This bias will vary for different groups and variables in question.

To adjust for some of the biases in the net sample, figures in the tables are weighted. The following variables are included in the weighting for non-response: Gender, age, education and family size.

Sampling errors

The uncertainty of findings based on a sample from the population is often called sampling variance. The standard deviation is a measure of this uncertainty. The size of the standard deviation depends, among other factors, on the number of observations in the sample, and on the distribution of the current variable in the whole population.

Statistic Norway has not made exact calculations to compute standard deviation for the findings. However, in table 1, the approximate size of standard deviation is given for 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 observation on the whole population instead of observation based on a part of the population). Such intervals are called confidence intervals if constructed in a special way. In this connection one can use the following method: 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, with approximately 95 per cent probability, an interval containing the true value.

The following example illustrates the use of table 1 for finding confidence intervals: The estimate of standard deviation of 70 percent 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. Standarddeviation in per cent

Not relevant