Americans rely more than ever on light trucks — sport-utility vehicles, pickup trucks, vans and minivans — for recreational activities to reinforce their family lives and enhance their physical fitness, according to research conducted by Roper/Starch Worldwide for the American Recreation Coalition.

The door-to-door survey of 2,000 adults found that top purposes for participating in outdoor activities are "to have fun" (76 percent), "relaxation" (71 percent), "health and exercise" (70 percent), "family togetherness" (68 percent) and "stress reduction" (66 percent).

The top recreational activity is pleasure driving, done by 40 percent of the public.

The survey shows other leading activities are swimming (35 percent), fishing (25 percent), camping (25 percent) and bicycling (21 percent). Nine in 10 Americans (87 percent) participated in an outdoor recreational activity over the past 12 months, according to a 2003 Roper survey.

"SUVs, minivans and other light trucks are increasingly the vehicle of choice for families when they participate in recreational activities," said Fred Webber, Alliance president/CEO. "Whether it's towing a boat or a camping trailer or driving through rugged terrain to get to a favorite hiking spot, SUVs, pickups, vans and minivans play a key role in helping to foster family time, fitness and fun."

"Mobility is the key attribute Americans require when recreating during the summer months," said Derrick Crandal, president of the American Recreation Coalition. "Light trucks of all types, whether SUVs, pickups, vans or minivans, are ideal vehicles for Americans to reach our nation's majestic outdoor destinations and enjoy healthy, physically active lifestyles."

"SUVs and light trucks are essential for the millions of Americans who enjoy boating," said Michael Sciulla, vice president of the Boat Owners Association of the United States. "Our members need these vehicles to tow their boats from their homes to lakes, shorelines, rivers or oceans. Without SUVs and light trucks, boating would sink."