MOUNT PROSPECT, IL -- In 2008, the number of people who worked out at a club increased to 39.3 million people, according to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). That made working out at a club the No. 8 participant activity in NSGA’s annual “Sports Participation – Series I and II” reports. In 2007, the survey ranked working out at a club at No. 10 with 33.8 million participants.
The data also showed that exercise walking, which experienced 7.6 percent growth in 2008, remains the No. 1 participant activity, a position it has held since 1990. In 2008, 96.6 million Americans walked for exercise. In 2007, exercise walking had 89.8 million participants.
Swimming, with a 6.1 percent increase, moved ahead of exercising with equipment for the No. 2 spot. With its increase, swimming attracted 63.5 million participants. Exercising with equipment attracted 63 million participants, placing it in the No. 3 position. Last year’s survey showed that 52.8 million participants exercised with equipment.
Bowling claimed 49.5 million participants for the No. 4 spot. Camping (vacation/overnight) claimed the No. 5 spot with 49.4 million participants.
New to the Top 10 was hiking with 38 million participants. This pulled it to the No. 9 position. Falling from the Top 10 was power boating, which dropped to No. 15 after a 13 percent decline in participation (27.8 million participants).
Rounding out the Top 10 were bicycle riding, No. 6 with 44.7 million participants; fishing, No. 7 with 42.2 million participants; and weight lifting, No. 10 with 37.5 million participants.
Among traditional team sports, basketball was the leader, attracting 29.7 million participants. Baseball followed, with 15.2 million participants; softball, with 12.8 million participants; volleyball, with 12.2 million participants; and tackle football, with 10.5 million participants. Only tackle football showed a drop in participation, down 3.7 percent.
“It was good to see growth in the team sports arena. Other than tackle football, the team sports showed growth ranging from 1 to 9 percent,” NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle says. “Volleyball participation, which had been declining for a number of years, seems to have stabilized.”
Of the 41 sports in the 2008 survey, 26 increased in participation while 15 showed declines. Activities newly surveyed for the 2008 report include cheerleading and canoeing.
For the survey, a participant is someone age 7 or older who takes part in a sport or activity more than once in a calendar year. “Sports Participation in 2008 – Series I and II” cover 41 sports, recreation and fitness activities. Participation rates for all 41 sports surveyed may be viewed on NSGA’s Web site.