Promoting Sports & Fitness
Participation and Industry Vitality

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Inactivity Levels in the U.S. Rise to 68.2 Million People

Date: 3/29/12

Physical Activity Study Indicates Children are Slightly More Active

Silver Spring, MD - March 29, 2012 — The number of inactive persons in the U.S. increased to 68.2 million in 2011 from 67.2 million in 2010, according to a new study released by the Physical Activity Council (PAC), a partnership of six major trade associations in the sports, fitness, and leisure industries.  However, inactivity among children ages six to 12 fell slightly from 4.6 million people in 2010 to 4.5 million people in 2011. This may be an early indication that efforts to engage children in sports, recreation and other related physical activities are starting to have a slight effect on America’s youngest generation. Those adults ages 18 and older not participating in any of the physical activities measured continued to increase, rising from 58.7 million in 2010 to 60 million in 2011. The research is part of the 2012 PAC Participation Report, an annual study tracking sports, fitness and recreation participation in the United States.

The annual PAC’s Participation Report measures overall levels of activity and identifies trends in 119 specific sports, fitness and recreation activities. The Report also examines spending habits, the effect of physical education, participation interests among non-participants and – new this year – how physical activity affects voting plans. The Report was conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys USA, and the findings are based on an annual online survey of more than 38,000 Americans ages six and older.

The 2012 PAC Participation Report shows very clearly there’s a lot more work that needs to take place to get Americans more active.  With 68.1 million people totally inactive, part of the country’s national agenda to reduce obesity and get health care costs in line has to include a component that addresses ways to get people off their couches and moving.”  said Tom Cove, President and CEO of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.

The following are highlights from the 2012 PAC Participation Report:

  • Participation in outdoor sports, like camping and hiking, saw the only increase in overall participation for the grouped participation categories, regaining the two percentage points it lost in 2010.
  • Fitness sports remained the most popular physical activity. The participation rate held steady at 60 percent — for the fourth year in a row. Fitness activities, like yoga, boot camp-style training and other classes, continued to drive this set of activities.
  • Core participation, those people who participated on a regular basis, in racquet sports gained one percentage point.
  • Human-powered snow sports were up in the low single digits despite a decline in motorized snow and winter activities.
  • Most states had an inactivity rate of over 18.8 percent. Inactivity tended to be higher in the southern United States, while more active populations are usually located in northern and western states.
  • The economy still had a slight impact on sports and recreation spending. While many active Americans are still not spending money on sports and recreation, more people did spent the same amount or increased spending, rather than spending less. People plan to increase spending in 2012, rather than decrease spending.
  • There are significant opportunities to engage inactive populations in swimming, working out with weights and working out using machines. Swimming ranked as a popular “aspirational sport” for inactives ages six to 12 and ages 45 and up. Working out with weights and working out using machines were the top “aspirational sports” for inactives ages 13 to 44.

Active People Plan to Vote
In this year’s study for the first time we asked about people’s plans to vote in the upcoming presidential election. According to David Ingemie, President and CEO of the Snowsports Industries America,

“Of the 235 million people over 18 in this country, 175 million of them are active Americans, and most of them plan to vote.  It would be great if there were more physically and mentally active people, and more voters.”

Download the 2012 PAC Participation Report at www.physicalactivitycouncil.com


Physical Activity Council
The Physical Activity Council (PAC) is made up of six of the leading sports and manufacturer associations that are dedicated to growing participation in their respective sports and activities. To understand their audiences, these organizations conduct annual studies that provide comprehensive, accurate and actionable data on sports participation.

The PAC is made up of the following trade and industry associations:

  • Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), 301.495.6321
  • Snowsports Industries America (SIA), 703.556.9020
  • Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Foundation (OIA) and (OF), p:202.271.3252
  • International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub, Association (IHRSA), 617.951.0055
  • National Golf Foundation (NGF), 561.744.6006
  • Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA), 866.686.3036

About Sports Marketing Surveys USA
Sports Marketing Surveys USA (SMS) is a full service marketing research company with its roots firmly planted in sports participation, consumer quantitative and qualitative research, dealer studies and much more all related to sports. Since 1985, SMS has been providing, data, insight and analysis to help drive strategic decision-making. 

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