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Yoga Continues Participation Explosion in 2009

Nearly 16 million Americans participated in yoga in 2009, marking the second year in a row with growth of 20% or more.

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MOUNT PROSPECT, IL – Yoga, which grew by 21.9% in 2008, grew at nearly the same rate in 2009, 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 yoga with 15.7 million participants in 2009, an increase of 20.9% compared to the 13.0 million in 2008. Since the Association began surveying yoga in 2007 (10.7 million participants), participation has grown by 46.7%.

Among sports and activities with 10 million or more participants, fitness activities occupied five of the next six spots on the list. Exercising with equipment (57.2 million participants) showed a 4.0% increase, followed by aerobic exercising (33.1 million) and camping (50.9 million), 3.0% each. Next in line were hiking (34.0 million), 2.8%, and weight lifting (34.5 million), 1.8%, and running/jogging (32.2 million), 1.0%.

The overall percentage leader was ice hockey, which showed a 60.0% increase to 3.1 million participants. Several other activities with fewer than 10 million participants showed increases in 2009, including muzzleloading (3.8 million), 11.6%; cross country skiing (1.7 million), 7.4%; alpine skiing (7.0 million), 7.3%; snowboarding (6.2 million), 5.7%; and airgun target shooting (5.2 million), 4.3%.

Exercise walking, the No. 1 sports and recreation activity on the survey with 93.4 million participants, showed its first ever decline, 3.4%. The only other fitness activity to decline was working out at a club, which slipped 2.6% to 38.3 million participants.

“Despite these few declines, the fitness category continues strong,” said NSGA Vice President of Information & Research Thomas B. Doyle. “On the other hand, most team sports, with the exception of ice hockey and soccer (+0.6% to 13.6 million participants), showed declines in participation last year.”

Among traditional team sports, basketball participation was down 5.0% to 24.4 million; tackle football, down 6.2% to 8.9 million; softball, down 7.9% to 11.8 million, volleyball, down 11.7% to 10.7 million, and baseball, down 13.5% to 11.5 million. That contrasts with 2008 increases in soccer (12.5%), basketball (6.4%), softball (3.6%) and volleyball (1.0%). Gymnastics (3.9 million) and wrestling (3.0 million) were surveyed in 2009 but not in 2008.

Other activities newly surveyed for the 2009 report include target archery, dart throwing, kayaking, and table tennis.

A complete chart is available at

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 2009 — Series I and II” cover 45 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 2009 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 2009: 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, supports its members’ efforts to be more profitable and advocates on their behalf. NSGA organizes and hosts the annual NSGA Management Conference & Team Dealer Summit, the sporting goods industry’s premier educational and networking event (Next: May 1-4, 2011, at Loews Ventana Canyon, Tucson, Ariz.).

For more information on NSGA member services, visit the Association home page (; call Darlene Plunkett at NSGA, (847) 296-6742, Ext. 131; e-mail:; or fax (847) 391-9827.