Over the past ten years, obesity has become an increasingly serious issue in America, and sports participation has suffered slightly as more Americans become inactive. Thankfully, the sports and fitness industry is one of the most resilient industry’s in the world and is perfectly capable of weathering a minor blip. As for the cause of this slow down, many are quick to point at the increased popularity of video games or the meteoric rise of Facebook, Twitter and the like. But regardless of what one may point at to be the true “cause” of the drop in sports participation and rise in obesity, we here at SFIA are constantly analyzing data for solutions. And we may have a new one for you….
Here at the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, we have a lot on our minds. One day, our research shines light on an important trend in sports participation that we feel demands the attention of our industry. The next, we find a story on one of our members new innovations that promise to change the industry for years to come. Some days are focused on Capitol Hill as we work to increase funding for physical education in school or eliminate foreign counterfeit markets. On others, the “sports fanatic” inside of us comes alive as our office is captivated by an amazing play or underdog victory.
Swimming for fitness is quickly growing in popularity in the United States among all people, young and old. According to SFIA’s “Topline” report, which summarizes and evaluates data on levels of activity within the United States, Swimming for Fitness has experienced growth in total, casual, and core levels of participation. Total participation, which encompasses anyone who has actively swam for fitness at least once in the previous year, rose from approximately 21,517,000 participants in 2011 to 23,216,000 participants in 2012, an impressive 7.9 percent increase in participation. This 1.7 million increase in participants is the largest increase out of all the sports that SFIA covers for 2012. Casual participation measures persons who have swum at least once but less than 49 times in the previous year. Casual participation rates showed 7.6 percent growth from 2011 to 2012, an increase from approximately 14,065,000 participants to 15,139,000 participants. The transition from casual to core participants highlights those truly dedicated to the sport. Core participants are those who have swam for fitness 50 or more times in the previous year. In 2011, approximately 7,453,000 people swam as a means of physical exercise, and in 2012 the number rose to 8,077,000, which marks an 8.4 percent increase in participation.