Sports and exercise among Americans

August 04, 2016

The only Olympic activity most Americans will engage in during the 2016 Summer Olympics Games (in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from August 5 to August 21) will be watching the events on television. But many Americans do participate in sports and exercise activities, albeit not at the Olympic level. From 2011 to 2015, 18 percent of Americans age 15 and older engaged in some sport or exercise activity on a typical day. People who participated spent an average of 1 hour 27 minutes doing these activities. Walking was the most popular form of athletic activity: 30 percent of people age 15 and older who participated in a sport or exercise activity on an average day engaged in walking. Weightlifting (8.9 percent), running (8.8 percent), and using cardiovascular equipment (8.7 percent) were the next most popular activities or sports. 

Most common sports and exercise activities, 2011–15
Sport or exercise activity Percent of total number of people age 15 and older who participated in any sport or exercise activity

Walking

30.4%

Weightlifting

8.9

Running

8.8

Using cardiovascular equipment

8.7

Swimming, surfing, water skiing

7.3

Basketball

3.5

Cycling

3.1

Golfing

2.9

Yoga

2.4

Aerobics

1.7

Bowling

1.6

Soccer

1.5

Dancing

1.2

Football

1.1

Baseball, softball

1.1

Racquet sports

1.0

Hiking

0.9

Rollerblading

0.6

Volleyball

0.6

Skiing, ice skating, snowboarding

0.5

Equestrian sports

0.4

Martial arts

0.3

Hockey

0.2

Gymnastics

0.1

Wrestling

0.1

Note: Data in this table are based on the approximately 18 percent of persons age 15 and older who engaged in any sports or exercise activity on an average day.

From 2011 to 2015, 86.0 percent of people age 15 and older who participated in aerobics were women. Yoga (85.2 percent) and dancing (65.8 percent) were also more popular among women than men. In contrast, men made up 93.0 percent of those participating in football. Men also were more likely to participate in basketball (90.3 percent), golf (87.8 percent), and soccer (76.5 percent).

Percent distribution of men and women participating in specific sports or exercise activities, 2011–2015
Sport or exercise activity Men Women

Aerobics

14.0% 86.0%

Yoga

14.8 85.2

Dancing

34.2 65.8

Using cardiovascular equipment

43.8 56.2

Walking

44.6 55.4

Swimming, surfing, water skiing

48.9 51.1

Bowling

53.0 47.0

Hiking

59.1 40.9

Running

60.8 39.2

Cycling

63.8 36.2

Racquet sports

65.2 34.8

Baseball, softball

69.8 30.3

Weightlifting

70.3 29.7

Soccer

76.5 23.5

Golfing

87.8 12.2

Basketball

90.3 9.7

Football

93.0 7.0

Note: Data in this table are based on the approximately 18 percent of persons age 15 and older who engaged in any sports or exercise activity on an average day.

These data are from the American Time Use Survey. For more information, see "American Time Use Survey — 2015 Results" (HTML) (PDF) and American Time Use Survey charts.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Sports and exercise among Americans on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2016/sports-and-exercise-among-americans.htm (visited October 19, 2017).

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