Reports & Insights

America was a more active country than ever in 2021

America was a more active country than ever in 2021

You are here:

Reports & Insights

America is a more active country than ever according to new research findings. Inactivity levels in America in 2021 declined by 0.7% compared to 2020, marking a second consecutive annual rise in activity levels.


Compared to 2016, activity has increased 7.8% – that is 16.8 million more people participating in sports and fitness in a five-year span. Lower inactivity levels in 2021 were primarily driven by the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups, with youth inactivity – age groups 6 to12 and 13 to 17 – also decreasing for the fifth year in a row. While these activity numbers are encouraging, there is still a lot of work to do as over 72 million people are still inactive.

The insights come from the Sports and Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) annual Topline Participation Report, produced by Sports Marketing Surveys. The report tracks participation rates of Americans aged six and older, across 120 different sport, fitness, and outdoor activities, including a section dedicated to the impact of COVID-19 on participation rates.


“2021 showed pandemic-friendly activities like tennis, golf, running, hiking, yoga, skateboarding and surfing continue to be popular, while other categories that declined in 2020 are starting to recover,” said Tom Cove, President & CEO, SFIA.


Keith Storey, President of Sports Marketing Surveys USA, added: “It’s encouraging to see activity levels rising again in America. The pandemic could have easily become an excuse for people to exercise less, but instead it has reaffirmed the huge physical, mental and social health values that sport and physical activity can offer.”


Across the seven sports categories tracked by SFIA, water sports saw the largest year-on-year increase in participation at 2.3%, followed closely behind by outdoor sports with a 2.2% annual increase. Team sports saw a year-on-year increase of 1.8%, but participation still remains lower than pre-pandemic levels with approximately two million fewer people participating in team sports in 2021 than 2019.


Pickleball continues its incredible rise, becoming the fastest growing sport over the last two years, with participation surging by 39.3%. Yoga grew by 12.8% in that same time frame, making it one of the fastest growing activities during the pandemic.


Cove says, “As we continue to face challenges with an ongoing, unpredictable pandemic, we are encouraged to see folks returning to health clubs and heading back out to the courts and fields, and continuing the active lifestyles they adopted during the pandemic.”

The 2022 Topline Participation Report is free to SFIA Members and is available to the public for purchase by clicking here for $349.


Customers preferring to pay via paypal in GBP can also purchase the report from the Sports Marketing Surveys website here.

The report is provided free-of-charge to members of the media. If you are interested in a copy of this report, please contact Lisa Futterman at


ABOUT SFIA: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation, as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs and member services. For more information, please visit

Looking for extensive insight and strategic solutions for your organisation? We can help.