BackgroundThis study is a part of a project focusing older people and their habits in outdoor recreation and their uses of gardens at nursing homes. In Sweden and in several other countries the aged population is growing faster than the younger population. It is important to meet the needs of this growing population and to improve preconditions for health and well-being. Earlier studies in this field present significant connections between health/well-being and being outdoors (Küller & Küller, 1994). Both physical and physiological effects have been observed. These studies are sometimes focusing the outdoor activity (DiPietro, 2001) (Frändin, 1995) and sometimes the outdoor environment (Heath & Gifford, 2001) (Cohen-Mansfield & Werner, 1999) In some cases it is not specified whether the effects are due to environmental qualities or the physical activity (Cohen-Mansfield & Werner, 1998) (Ottosson, & Grahn, 1998). In a preparatory literature study two factors explaining the preconditions for use of outdoor environments were observed. The factors physical accessibility and physiological accessibility will be further investigated in future studies. The older peoples uses of outdoor environment will be studied concerning activities and experience values. Important issues are fore example accessibility, security, safety, activities, environmental qualities and how costumes in outdoor recreation differs over the week and over the year. Comparative studies will investigate differences in outdoor recreation habits in A. different age groups and B. according to environmental preconditions. The result will be analysed and used to develop concepts for design. The results here presented are included in the first step of this project, a Swedish national questionnaire survey, which aims to gain a general perspective on habits in outdoor recreation. Further on field studies with observations and interviews will be made to investigate outdoor environments. MethodThe questionnaire survey was performed in april-may 2003. The main target was to investigate Swedish peoples habits in and demand for outdoor recreation. The survey was sent by mail to 2000 nationally registered persons over 18 years old. Three reminders were sent during the following weeks. 67 % (1 325 persons) responded to the questionnaire. The empirical result will be used in a study comparing access and demand for outdoor recreation. The result will be used to develop indicators for environmental qualities in outdoor environment. Results The results that will be presented derive from analyses of a comparison of people between 18 and 63, persons between 64 and 73 years of age and persons above 74 years of age. The aim is to investigate whether there are differences concerning habits in and demands for outdoor recreation in this three age groups. Results concerning the following issues will be presented:- Distances to different kinds of parks, nature areas or cultural areas?Visits during the last year to different kinds of parks, nature areas or cultural areas- Transportation to different places for outdoor recreation, during weekday, weekend and holiday- Practise of outdoor activities such as walking, skiing, bicycling, being out with children, looking at views, relaxing, garden work etc- Constraints for practising recreation, such as weather, condition, time, fear, lack of company, lack of interest, illness etc- Health, for example headache, backache, tiredness, irritation and stress?Importance of environmental qualities, such as service, restorativeness, experiences, nature and park.