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Running/Jogging and Yoga Lead Sports Growth in 2008

Running/jogging showed the highest growth rate in 2008, jumping 18.2% to 35.9 million participants.

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MOUNT PROSPECT, IL – Among sports and recreation activities with 10 million or more participants, running/jogging experienced the highest growth rate in 2008, according to the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). Data contained in NSGA’s annual “Sports Participation — Series I and II” reports, which are now available, shows running/jogging grew 18.2% with 35.9 million pounding the pavements. Yoga, in just its second year in the study, trailed closely with a 17.1% growth rate to 16.0 million participants.

Sports and recreation activities showing more than 10% growth included snowboarding (15.6% to 5.9 million participants); soccer (12.5% to 15.5 million participants); bicycle riding (11.4% to 44.7 million participants); and hiking, (10.5% to 38.0 million participants). Both soccer and bicycle riding showed substantial gains following three years of little or no growth.

Exercise walking, the No. 1 sports and recreation activity with 96.6 million participants, grew 7.6% in 2008. Among fitness activities surveyed, all showed gains. In addition to the growth seen for running/jogging, yoga and exercise walking, exercising with equipment was up 9.2% to 63.0 million participants in 2008. Workout at club (up 6.8% to 39.3 million participants), weightlifting (up 6.6% to 37.5 million participants) and aerobic exercising (up 4.1% to 36.2 million participants) were part of the fitness activities growth.

“It is encouraging to see the surge in participation in fitness activities,” said NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle. “Even a modest increase in exercise walking this year would push that fitness activity past the 100-million mark, the first time any of our surveyed sports and activities would surpass that barrier.”

Among traditional team sports, soccer led growth and was followed by baseball – up 8.7% to 15.2 million participants. Volleyball was the most anemic, showing just a 1.0% growth to 12.2 million participants. Basketball was up 5.7% to 29.7 million participants; softball was up 3.6% to 12.8 million participants.

Activities newly surveyed for the 2008 report include canoeing and cheerleading.

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. “Sports Participation in 2008 — Series I and II” cover 41 sports, recreation and fitness activities. Participation rates for all the sports surveyed may be viewed on the NSGA website (

These reports have been published by NSGA for more than 25 years. They provide data on total 2008 participation, frequency of participation, and mean (average) and median (mid-point) 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 and median 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.

In addition to Series I and II, state-by-state data will be available in “Sports Participation in 2008: 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: Information is also available on the NSGA web site,

About NSGA:
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 3-6, 2009, at the Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, Texas; May 2-5, 2010, at Saddlebrook Resort-Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Fla.).

For more information on NSGA member services, visit the Association home page (; call Sue Wenderski at NSGA, (847) 296-6742, Ext. 102; e-mail:; or fax (847) 391-9827.