Promoting Sports & Fitness
Participation and Industry Vitality

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PAC Sees Some Positive Signals in Americans Physical Activity Levels

Date: 2/29/16

CONTACT: Keith Storey
561-427-0647 ext. 2

March 1, 2016 – According to the 2016 Participation Report published by the Physical Activity Council (PAC), overall levels of inactivity decreased marginally in the last 12 months from 28.3% of Americans age six and older in 2014 to 27.7% in 2015.  However, there are still 81.6 million inactive Americans.

An “inactive” person is defined as one who does not participate in any of the more than 102 sports/activities covered by the report, which includes everything from individual and team sports to walking and running.

“The slight increase in overall activity levels is a positive sign; however, the country is still experiencing worrisome levels of inactivity,” said Tom Cove, PAC Chairman and President and CEO of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). “The entire sports and fitness industry must continue to band together to raise awareness of the inactivity pandemic and promote viable solutions to get Americans of all ages living active and healthy lifestyles,” added Cove.  

Inactivity decreased for most age groups, with 13 to 17 year olds having the biggest drop (1.4%) and 35 to 44 year olds having the lowest decrease (0.2%) in 2015. While those Americans between the ages of 45 to 54 remained flat in inactivity, there was a gradual increase in inactivity for 55 to 64 year olds.

In terms of interest across age groups, all who currently do not engage in physical activity continue to look at swimming as a means for future fitness. Outdoor activities closely follow, particularly camping and biking.

“One of the most important findings of this report and an overall trend that we’re seeing across activity sectors is people prefer to participate with friends,” said Christine Fanning, Executive Director of the Outdoor Foundation. “As we try to engage new audiences, it will be critical to highlight, promote and even expand the social aspects of activities.”

Another important finding is the impact school-based physical education (PE) programs can have on a person’s physical activity levels later in life.  The PAC Report verifies individuals that had PE in school are nearly two to three times more likely to participate in physical activity to a healthy level as adults than individuals that did not have PE in school.

"It is encouraging to see an increase in overall participation in sports, fitness and related physical activities in 2015, considering participation had been on the decline over the past few years. The fact that one out of five Americans utilizes a health club is great news,” said Joe Moore, President and CEO of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). “However, considering there are still 81.6 million Americans who do not engage in any significant physical activity, it's clear that the fitness and sports industries must provide even more assistance and support to help people develop the habit of ongoing physical activity."

The annual Participation Report measures overall levels of activity and identifies trends in more than 100 specific sports, fitness and recreation activities. The report also examines spending habits, the effect of physical education, and participation interests among non-participants. The research was conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys USA, and the findings are based on an annual online survey of 30,000 Americans age 6 and older.  The full version of the 2016 Participation Report can be found at PhysicalActivityCouncil.com

About the Physical Activity Council:  The Physical Activity Council (PAC) is made up of eight leading industry organizations 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:

About Sports Marketing Surveys USA:  Sports Marketing Surveys (SMS) USA 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. Visit www.sportsmarketingsurveysusa.com.

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