Survey says 68 million people are ‘completely inactive’
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — You’d never know it living in in the Colorado high country, but there are more American couch potatoes than ever. According to the latest figures released by the Physical Activity Council, about 19 percent of all Americans don’t participate in any physical activities at all.
The coalition of leisure, spots and fitness trade groups last week released results from its latest national survey showing the number of “inactive” persons in the U.S. grew by 1 million, to 68.2 million in 2011. Inactivity levels are greatest in the South and lowest in the North and West, with a nationwide average of 18.8 percent.
One bright spot is that the number of inactive children (ages six to 12) fell slightly, suggesting that efforts engage youth in sports, recreation and other related physical activities are starting to have a slight impact on America’s youngest generation.
Outdoor sports like camping and hiking was the only category to see an increase, while fitness sports, including activities like yoga and exercise classes, remained the most popular physical activity.
“The 2012 participation report shows very clearly there’s a lot more work that needs to take place to get American’s more active. With 68.1 million people totally inactive, part of the country’s national agenda to reduce obesity and get health care costs in line has to include a component that addresses ways to get people off their couches and moving.” said Tom Cove, president and CEO of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
The annual participation report measures overall levels of activity and identifies trends in 119 specific sports, fitness and recreation activities. The Report also examines spending habits, the effect of physical education, participation interests among non-participants and — new this year — how physical activity affects voting plans.The report was conducted by Sports Marketing USA, and the findings are based on an annual online survey of more than 38,000 Americans ages six and older.
Some highlights from the report:
- Participation in outdoor sports, like camping and hiking, saw the only increase in overall participation for the grouped participation categories, regaining the two percentage points it lost in 2010.
- Fitness sports remained the most popular physical activity. The participation rate held steady at 60 percent – for the fourth year in a row. Fitness activities, like yoga, boot camp-style training and other classes, continued to drive this set of activities.
- Core participation, those people who participated on a regular basis, in racquet sports gained one percentage point.
- Gravity and human-powered snow sports were up in the low single digits despite a decline in motorized snow and winter activities.
- Most states had an inactivity rate of over 18.8 percent. Inactivity tended to be higher in the southern United States, while more active populations are usually located in northern and western states.
- The economy still had a slight impact on sports and recreation spending. While many active Americans are still not spending money on sports and recreation, more people did spent the same amount or increased spending, rather than spending less. People plan to increase spending in 2012, rather than decrease spending.
- There are significant opportunities to engage inactive populations in swimming, working out with weights and working out using machines. Swimming ranked as a popular “aspirational sport” for inactives ages six to 12 and ages 45 and up. Working out with weights and working out using machines were the top “aspirational sports” for inactives ages 13 to 44.