The 2018 Physical Activity Council Participation Report on sports and activities in the U.S. shows that 28 percent of the population, 82.4 million Americans, are inactive.
For more than five years, over a quarter of the U.S. population has indicated they were inactive. However, the annual report also indicates a moderate rise in participation for many sports and activities, including fitness sports, outdoor sports and winter sports.
“While the number of inactive Americans continues to be a major concern for our country, we are encouraged that the rate of increase has slowed,” said Tom Cove, president/CEO of Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
Of concern, though, is that inactivity rates among low-income households are nearing historic levels. Forty-two percent of households making an annual income of less than $25,000 are now reporting to be inactive, and this is the sixth consecutive year this demographic has experienced an increase in inactivity. On the other hand, households with an annual income over $75,000 continue to experience decreasing inactivity rates.
“Americans in substantial numbers continue to be engaged in a wide variety of sports, fitness and outdoor activities,” Cove said, “but trends that suggest financial resources determine activity levels need to be addressed.”
While activity levels vary across generations, the trends are somewhat expected. Generation Z, those born in the 2000s and making up 17 percent of the U.S. population, are the most active. Baby Boomers, born from 1945 to 1964 and comprising about 25 percent of the population, are the least active.
As capabilities and energy may decrease with age, Baby Boomers are far more involved in fitness sports than in any other category, as they actively acknowledge the importance of their health. However, in the past year, inactivity rates among Americans ages 65 and up have increased nearly 2 percent, surpassing 40 percent overall for this age group. This inactivity rate is nearly 10 percent greater than the inactive population just years younger, in the 55-64 age group.
Aside from older Americans, though, almost every generation is becoming more active, according to the PAC report. “As our population evolves and ages, it’s exciting to see all age groups in new, fun activities,” said Jolyn de Boer, executive director of the Tennis Industry Association. “Whether it’s stand-up paddling, pickleball, indoor golf or cardio tennis, we are seeing real growth and innovation in the ways Americans recreate.”
The study highlights the remarkable impact physical education has on the lifelong habits of Americans. The research gathered on physical education (PE) programs shows that 78 percent of individuals who had PE in school remain active. As lower-income households are dependent on PE for most of their physical activity, and the inactivity rates in that demographic are consistently increasing, it highlights the importance of including PE in a school curriculum.
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 30,999 Americans age six and older. The full version of the 2018 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:
- International Health, Racquet, & Sportsclub, Association (IHRSA), 951.0055, ihrsa.org
- National Golf Foundation (NGF), 744.6006, ngf.org
- Outdoor Foundation (OF), 271.3252, outdoorfoundation.org
- Snowsports Industries America (SIA), 435-657-5140, org
- Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), 495.6321, sfia.org
- Tennis Industry Association (TIA), 686.3036, tennisindustry.org
- United States Tennis Association (USTA), 696.7000, usta.com
- USA Football, 614.7750, usafootball.com