Monday, April 6, 2009

Fitness, Family & Social Activities Drive Sports Participation

“While the American economy is suffering, many sports, fitness, and recreation activities are growing in popularity. According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association’s Sports & Fitness Participation Report (2009 edition), a number of activities in the U.S. are on the upswing as participation is growing. ‘The importance of daily physical activity is as important now as it has ever been,” said SGMA President Tom Cove. “While millions of Americans are impacted by uncertainty in the workplace and the overall economy, their interest in playing sports, working out, and getting regular exercise remains strong.’ Despite the dip in the economy, sports and activities that had ‘statistically significant’ growth from 2007 to 2008 were either fitness or family/social activities that don’t cost much money to play. Fitness activities which had ‘statistically significant’ growth in 2008 over 2007 were step aerobics (up 21.0%), high impact aerobics (up 8.7%), low impact aerobics (up 7.9%), elliptical motion trainers (up 7.2%), dumbbells (up 6.2%), and walking for fitness (up 2.7%). Walking for fitness, by the way, is the most popular activity in the U.S. in with 111.7 million participants. Family/social activities which had ‘statistically significant’ growth in 2008 over 2007 were ultimate frisbee (up 20.8%), backpacking (up 18.5%), surfing (18.2%), racquetball (up 18.1%), court volleyball (up 17.2%), trail running (up 15.2%), indoor soccer (11.8%), bicycling (10.2%), and tennis (up 9.6%). Since 2000, a number of fitness activities, competitive sports, and recreational endeavors have shown ‘statistically significant’ growth – especially in the fitness category. Sports and Fitness Activities with the Highest Growth Rates Since 2000 (age 6 and above; U.S. residents; source: SGMA)
Rank/Sport 2008 Participation Growth Rate Since 2000
1. Pilates Training 8,886,000 471%
2. Elliptical Motion Trainer 25,284,000 243%
3. Lacrosse 1,127,000 117%
4. Stretching 36,288,000 47%
5. Tennis 18,558,000 43%
6. Spinning 6,693,000 42%
7. Table Tennis 17,201,000 35%
8. Paintball 4,857,000 34%
9. Treadmill 49,371,000 32%
10. Running/Jogging 41,130,000 31%
While six of those top ten growth activities are related to fitness (aerobic, conditioning, and strength), it’s not the only popular sports category as Americans remain very interested in all athletic and recreational endeavors. Team Sports: The top three most popular team sports are basketball (26.3 million), baseball (15.0 million), and outdoor soccer (14.2 million). Racquet Sports: Three activities have had ‘statistically significant’ growth in overall participation from 2007 to 2008 -- racquetball (up 18.1%), tennis (up 9.6%), and table tennis (up 7.8%). Outdoor Sports: The leading activities are freshwater fishing (40.3 million), bicycling (38.1 million), camping (33.7 million), and day hiking (32.5 million).Water Sports: The top two growth activities in overall participation (2007 vs. 2008) are surfing (up 18.2% to 2.6 million participants) and snorkeling (up 10.8% to 10.3 million participants).Individual Sports: Since 2000, the top growth sport for overall participation is bowling (up 12.9% to 58.7 million). The top three activities for overall participation are bowling, billiards/pool (49.0 million), and golf (27.6 million). ‘While the news of this ever-present interest in all sports and exercise activities is encouraging, too many Americans still need to make exercise a daily priority. Right now, too many Americans are inactive which is leading to an obesity problem in this country,’ SGMA President/CEO Tom Cove.”

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