While the number of physically inactive Americans actually declined from 83 million people in 2014 down to 81.7 million in 2015, the underlying numbers on physical inactivity in the U.S. paint a grave picture according to research just released by the Physical Activity Council (PAC).

Here are the ‘red flag’ highlights which confirm the magnitude and severity of the ‘Inactivity Pandemic’:

•    The percentage of Americans active at least 3 times a week or more (‘active to healthy standards’) has dropped to an all-time low of 31.2 percent of the U.S. population;
•    The ‘active to healthy standards’ participation rate has dropped by 10 percent in the past five years;
•    Children active 3 times a week or more has also dropped to all-time lows for both 6-12 year olds & 13-17 year olds;
•    The number of children who are ‘core’ participants or more serious participants in youth team sports dropped in 2015;
•    Over the past five years, the number of ‘core’ youth sports participants is down in 17 of 24 youth sports;
•    Major trend:  more Americans are ‘casual’ sports participants vs. ‘core’ sports participants.

“While I am slightly encouraged that 1+ time per year participation was up in 2015, I always look at who is really committed to sports and fitness activities,” says Jim Baugh, Founder of PHIT America.  “People and kids who are ‘active to healthy standards’ or 3+ times per week is the real measure of the ‘Inactivity Pandemic.’  And, those numbers for adults and children are very negative.”

PHIT America has published these results and other in-depth analyses from the PAC Study in its new Inactivity Pandemic Report (2016 edition).  This report can be downloaded HERE.

After analyzing the recent research, the news about the increase in 1+ time per year participants is disturbing:

•    46 percent of all the growth came from people using guns — shooting (sport clays), shooting (trap/skeet), hunting (hand gun), and target shooting (handgun).
•    Four of the top eight growth activities for 1+ time participants were with people using guns;
•    Casual team sports participants (1+ time per year) grew for the first time in 2015, but 80 percent of this growth was with adults.

Another important aspect of the PAC research, which is vitally important to the sports and fitness industry, is the ‘Intent To Purchase’ data. In the Inactivity Pandemic Report, the ‘Intent To Purchase’ by consumers is down in most categories. And, from the most recent data from Sports Scan Info, the rolling 12-month retail sales confirm this trend.

“The recent closure of many retail sports stores in the U.S. is another confirmation of the ‘Inactivity Pandemic,’ adds Baugh.  “While the retail environment is shifting, the fact that there are far fewer ‘frequent’ sports participants — and consumers shopping in these stories — is the real story, in my opinion. We must reverse this ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ if the industry wants to grow long term.”

Despite the negative news, there is a silver lining.  Physical education is the ‘Inactivity Pandemic’ killer. The research reveals that when you look at children who have P.E. in school, they are 2-3 times more likely to be physically active outside of school.

This is why PHIT America is so excited about its GO! Grants program. GO! Grants help get elementary age children physically active through expanded P.E. programs.

“If you want to reverse physical inactivity in America, put daily P.E. back in our schools,” notes Baugh.  “P.E. is the physical inactivity killer.  If you have daily P.E. in school, you are 50 percent less likely to be inactive later in life.  There are also major academic benefits for students who get regular physical activity breaks at school.”