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Sports for Fitness, Rather than Fun

18 May, 2015

By: Tracey Schelmetic
Most Americans Engage in Sports Activities for Fitness Purposes, According to Survey

Remember when people used to play sports for fun? Yeah, those were the good old days. Emphasis on the old.

Today, most of the sports that ordinary Americans engage in are for fitness, according to the new 2015 Sports, Fitness, and Leisure Activities Topline Participation Report published by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). In fact, eight of the top ten rankings for core sports participants in the United States for 2014 were specifically for fitness, with only two – bicycling on a road/pavement and freshwater fishing – not deemed by the SFIA to be solely fitness oriented. “Core participants” are those defined as engaging in a sport or activity on a regular basis, at least once a week.

The 10 fitness activities include walking for fitness (with 76.8 million Americans participating), running/jogging (28 million), treadmill (27.7 million), stretching (26 million), free weights/hand weights under 15 pounds (24.8 million), weight resistant machines (21.2 million), bicycling on a road or pavement (20.4 million), free weights over 15 pounds (19 million), freshwater fishing (17.9 million) and stationery cycling (17.4 million).

The list, says the SFIA, says it proves a troubling reality: that about 82 million Americans engage in no fitness activity at all. For those that do, health and fitness would seem to be the number one goal.

“It should come as no surprise that the fitness lifestyle continues to dominate the list,” said Cameron Jacobs, SFIA’s Research Manager. “All of the top ten activities provide flexibility to the participant in that they can be performed individually, are easily accessible, and determined by the participant’s schedule.”

The SFIA Sports, Fitness and Leisure Activities Topline Participation Report is conducted annually, and was prepared by Sports Marketing Surveys USA. It was carried out during January and February of 2015 using a total of 10,778 online interviews with Americans. The study tracks participation in 120 sports, recreation and fitness activities.

This fitness activity has translated to good news for the sports and fitness equipment and apparel industries, according to another recent SFIA report. Sports and fitness purchasing sales grew 3.5 percent in 2014, to $84.3 billion in wholesale sales in the U.S., according to the 2015 Manufacturers’ Sales by Category Report published by the SFIA. The $84.3 billion is an increase of over $10 billion from 2010 when the industry topped $74 billion wholesale. These growth figures represent an average of sports equipment spending and fitness equipment spending. While sports equipment grew a modest 2.7 percent, fitness apparel grew 13.3 percent to $394 million wholesale, up $47 million from $347 million in 2013.

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