NSGA Finds Fitness Activities Dominate Top Ten Participation Activities in 2006; Exercise Walking No. 1

Exercise walking, which experienced 1.5% growth in 2006, remains the No. 1 participation activity surveyed by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), a position it has held since 1990.

MOUNT PROSPECT, IL – Exercise walking, which experienced 1.5% growth in 2006, remains the No. 1 participation activity surveyed by the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA), a position it has held since 1990. Data contained in NSGA's annual “Sports Participation – Series I and II” reports, which will be available in May, shows 87.5 million Americans walked for exercise in 2006.

In spite of a decrease of 2.6%, swimming (55.2 million participants) held the No. 2 spot that it had regained last year. Exercising with equipment, which had taken over the No. 3 position from camping, held that spot, although it experienced a 3.4% decline to 52.4 million participants.

Other fitness activities, which had shown healthy growth in 2005, were a mixed bag in 2006. The fastest growing fitness activity in the 2006 survey was “workout at club” (No. 7), which increased 4.8% to 36.4 million participants. Aerobic exercising, 9th with 33.7 million participants, was flat in 2006. Weightlifting, with 32.9 million participants, slipped 1.9% and fell to the No. 10 position. Running/jogging, 14th with 29.2 million (-1.6%), held that same position from last year.

Camping, with strong 5.7% growth, held the fourth position with 48.6 million participants. Bowling retained the No. 5 position with 44.8 million (-1.3%).

Staying at No. 6, fishing attracted 40.6 million participants (-2.5%). Rounding out the top 10, bicycle slipped to the eighth position with 35.6 million participants (-13.3%).

“The decline in bicycle riding was the most dramatic change in the Top Ten,” NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle said. “America's youth appears to be opting for other forms of wheels -- scooters, skateboards and wheeled footwear. Even off-road mountain biking, which had been strong in recent years, declined more than 5%.”

Team sports failed to duplicate their strong 2005 performance, with only tackle football showing an increase. Tackle football (11.9 million participants), which had a 15.5% increase in 2005, showed a 19.7% rise in 2006. Basketball was the highest-ranking team sport at No. 15 with 26.7 million participants (-7.4%). Other decreases came in volleyball (-9.3% to 11.1 million) and softball (-5.0% to 12.4 million). Soccer (14.0 million) showed a decline of less than one percent.

Cheerleading, an activity related to many of the team sports and a relatively new competitive sport in many states, rose 15.6% to 3.6 million.

For this survey, a participant is someone age seven or older who takes part in the sport or activity more than once in a calendar year. The “Sports Participation in 2006 – Series I and II” reports cover 41 sports, recreation and fitness activities. Participation rates for all 41 sports surveyed may be viewed on the NSGA website at www.nsga.org/public/pages/index.cfm?pageid=149.

These reports have been published by NSGA for more than 25 years. They provide data on total 2006 participation, frequency of participation, and average number of participation days. Single-time participation, which is not counted in the total, is included separately.

Demographic data on participants includes gender, age, mean age by gender, gender by age, household income, and education of male and female head of household. Geographic analysis includes nine census regions and metro area size. Presence of children is also noted, and Internet usage is reported by gender and age of participants.

In addition to Series I and II, state-by-state data will be available in “Sports Participation in 2006: State-By-State.” This report covers 33 sports and activities, and provides data on total participation, frequency of participation and total participation days.

For more information on pricing for these and other NSGA research reports, please contact the NSGA Research Department, (847) 296-6742, ext. 108, or e-mail: info@nsga.org. Information is also available on the NSGA web site, www.nsga.org.

NSGA, which has served the sporting goods industry since 1929, organizes and hosts the annual NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit, the sporting goods industry's premier educational and networking event (Next: May 20-23, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, Bonita Springs, Fla.).

For more information on NSGA member services, visit the Association home page (www.nsga.org); call Rhonda Onuszko at NSGA, (847) 296-6742, Ext. 130; e-mail: ronuszko@nsga.org; or fax (847) 391-9827.