Weightlifting shows biggest growth in fitness activities, NSGA reports

Weightlifting has powered up the list of popular fitness activities done each year by National Sporting Goods Association, reaching No. 9 overall in 2005 participation, up from 13th a year earlier and 17th when the group first surveyed it in 2000.
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Weightlifting has powered up the list of popular fitness activities done each year by National Sporting Goods Association, reaching No. 9 overall in 2005 participation, up from 13th a year earlier and 17th when the group first surveyed it in 2000.

And, not surprising here, it seems that those aging baby boomers in their 40s and 50s are leading the lifting pack, with increases in those age groups leading the charge. Overall, weightlifting attracted 35.5 million participants in 2005, up nearly 56 percent from its 22.8 million in 2000, according to statistics in NSGA's annual "Sports Participation -- Series I and II" reports.

"It isn't surprising that more baby boomers than ever are lifting weights. Boomers are flocking to fitness activities, and they're driving the market in purchases of exercise equipment, as well," said Thomas B. Doyle, NSGA vice president of information and research

In fact, five of the top 14 activities are what NSGA calls "classic" fitness activities. The other four include: exercise walking, 1st, 86 million, up 1.5 percent; working out at a club, 10th, 34.7 million, up 9.2 percent; aerobic exercising, 11th, 33.7 million, up 14.4 percent; and running/jogging, 14th, 29.2 million, up 9.5 percent.

Weightlifting apparently just leapfrogged right over the others, except walking, since in 2004, club workouts were 9th and aerobic exercising was 10th. Exercising with equipment is left up to the survey participant to define, but is interpreted as using either strength or cardiovascular equipment but not free weights. Aerobic exercising is seen as "doing aerobics," either in a group setting or alone and is not just any workout with aerobic benefits, a spokesman said.

In 2005, Doyle said, boomers age 45-64 purchased 38 percent of all motorized treadmills, 42 percent of all stationary exercise bikes and 25 percent of all ellipticals.

"Health and fitness have become important priorities to boomers," he added.

The number of women lifting weights is basically unchanged, the report stated, while those boomers led the way: Those age 45 to 54, jumped from 10.6 percent of the total to 13 percent of the total, reaching 4.6 million overall, and those age 55 to 64 reached 6.5 percent of the total, from 4.8 percent, or 2.3 million overall.

"On top of 2004's increases in fitness participation, we're seeing a trend that Americans are taking their health and fitness much more seriously," Doyle said. "It shouldn't be too many years before exercise walking becomes the nation's first 100-million-participant activity."

For this survey, a participant is someone age 7 or older who takes part in the sport or activity more than once in a calendar year. For more information about these research reports, contact info@nsga.org or go to www.nsga.org.

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