American Physical Activity Rates Tick Up

SFIA Releases Annual Topline Participation Report

SILVER SPRING, MD (Feb. 11, 2020) – After years of stagnant activity rates, 2019 saw three million more Americans take part in some sport or fitness activity, according to the SFIA’s annual Topline Participation Report, which was released today. The report found fitness, outdoor activities and team sports categories showing the most growth.  

The report also further substantiated alarming income disparities among those who are physically active. Households in lower income brackets ($49,999 and below) are significantly more inactive than those in higher income brackets ($50,000 and above).

“The uptick in number of people being active is good news and reflects a lot of hard work done in recent years to get more Americans active and healthy.   But make no mistake. The work is only beginning, and now is the time to double down to sustain this direction,” said Tom Cove, SFIA President and CEO.  

“As a nation, we have a special responsibility to ensure that access to sport and fitness is open to all, without regard to one’s income.  It’s a moral imperative and it’s also a sure-fire way to reduce long term health care costs.  This is why it is so important that we pass the PHIT Act immediately,” Cove added.

Key findings:

In fitness, nearly every category increased in participation. Dance, step, and other choreographed exercise to music (7.0 percent); aquatic exercise (6.4 percent); rowing machine (5.9 percent); and treadmill (5.7 percent) represented the greatest year-over-year growth. The trend is driven by casual (occasional) participation in a multitude of activities. This is likely due to opportunities presented by a variety of studios, gyms and classes, as well as apps like ClassPass, allowing individuals to participate on a more flexible schedule. New gyms, new apps and social media are working to reduce barriers to first-timers, providing the option to diversify your workout and try new things.  

Yoga remains strong, with a six percent year-over-year growth. This is a significant increase in an activity with such a large base. There are more yoga participants than high impact intensity training (HIIT), boot camp style training and barre combined. In addition, all combat sports (MMA for fitness, MMA for competition, boxing for fitness, boxing for competition, cardio kickboxing, martial arts and wrestling) reported healthy growth in 2019.  

The team sports category paints a mixed picture. Out of 23 team sports, 16 reported a decline in participation; however, the team sports category, as a whole, increased in participation. This growth is attributed to increases in select traditional team sports, such as basketball (2.9 percent), outdoor soccer (4.5 percent), volleyball (2.7 percent) and flag football (3.2 percent). 

The 2020 Topline Participation Report is free to SFIA members and available to the public for purchase here.

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