See Sports for Skiing, Cycling (Biking), ...
and Hobbies for photography, birding, ...
Yahoo lumps sports under recreation; We tried to keep the same categories as other web indexes for these.
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See Sports for:
Skiing, ...
Recreational Activities
According to the 2002 National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) by the US Forest Service 88% of the US population participated in some kind of Trail/Street/Road Activities (biking, walking, hiking, ...)
The Outdoor Industry Association says 72% of Americans 16+ participated at least once in a human powered active outdoor activity in 2004.

Activities below were ranked by popularity averaging participation data from the Natl. Sporting Goods Assn. (NSGA) and Other sources *) 1
Num. - US participants in millions (Population between 15 and 80 = 212 M)
(Participated more than once) (2004 normalized value based on 10 yr. trend)
Chg. - Average growth rate per year 1993-2004 (some are 1998-2001.) (Population growth = 1.3%/yr.)

Activity Num Chg.
1 Walking 84 2.0%
2 Swimming 68 -1.9%
3 Bicycle Riding 66 -2.6%
4 Fishing4 55 -1.6%
5 Camping (vacation/overnite) 51 2.3%
6 Exercising with Equipment 51 2.4%
See also Fitness Trends
7 Off-road Vehicle (ORV) * 50 7.2%
8 Hiking 2 48 0.0%
9 Bowling 45 -0.1%
10 Fitness Walking 40
11 Billiards/Pool 33 0.6%
12 Workout at Club 30 4.5%
13 Basketball 29 -0.8%
14 Running/Jogging 29 1.9%
15 Aerobic Exercising 29 1.7%
16 Weight Lifting 27 3.2%
17 Golf 3 25 0.8%
18 Boating, Motor/Power 24 -0.1%
19 Calisthenics 23
20 Target Shooting 18 -0.8%
21 Trail Running * 17 3.2%
22 Hunting with Firearms 17 0.1%
23 Bird Watching * 15 -9.0%
24 Volleyball 15 -4.8%
25 Canoeing 14 16.0%
26 In-Line Roller Skating 14 -2.0%
27 Soccer 14 1.2%
28 Softball 13 -3.2%
29 Horseback Riding 13
30 Tennis 13 -2.8%
31 Fly Fishing4 * 11 23.0%
32 Backpack/Wilderness Camp 12 5.1%
33 Baseball 12 -0.5%
34 Scooter Riding 11 -0.2%
35 Roller Skating 11
36 Football (touch) 10 -2.8%
37table tennis * 10
Activity Num Chg.
Skateboarding 10 7.4%
T'ai Chi/Yoga 10
Ice/Figure Skating 9.4 -3.0%
Paintball Games 8.7 13.7%
Skiing (alpine) 8.4 -3.7%
snorkeling * 8.2
Mountain Biking (off road) 8.2 0.0%
Kayaking * 8.2 16.0%
Jet Skiing 8.0
Pilates * 7.7
horseshoe pitching * 6.7
Football (tackle) 6.6 0.2%
Artificial Wall Climbing * 6.6 16.0%
Snowboarding 6.4 14.0%
Rafting * 5.8 -6.0%
Martial Arts 5.7 1.9%
Water Skiing 5.6 -3.3%
Skiing (cross country) 5.5 -4.0%
Archery (target) 5.4 -0.5%
badminton * 5.2
Hunting w/Bow & Arrow 4.5 0.0%
Cheerleading * 3.9
racquetball * 3.7
snowmobiling * 3.7
Telemark Skiing 3.6 18%
Kick Boxing 3.5 -5.5%
Muzzleloading 3.5 2.7%
Rock Climbing (Mountain) * 3.2 -3.0%
Sailing 3.1 -3.4%
snowshoeing * 2.8
Scuba diving (open water) * 2.5
Wakeboarding 2.3
Hockey (ice) 2.1 1.5%
surfboarding * 1.5
roller hockey * 1.3
Boardsailing/Windsurfing * 0.4
Lacrosse * 0.9 13.0%
Note: I don't think there sampling is sufficient; There is a large variation from year to year. I computed values by doing a best fit linear estimate from 1993 to 2004.
(Population between 15 and 80 = 212 M - Growth = 1.3%/yr.)

1. (*) Some data is from SGMA, American Sports Data, INC and Outdoor Industry Assn. OIA) in addition to NSGA. OIA numbers are more than double those of NSGA for bicycling, fishing, hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, rafting and cross-country skiing. (See Hiking in footnote 2 below.) NSGA requires participation more than once which accounts for some of the difference. (Other numbers between sources vary by as much as 35%. Some variation due to different age groups [Amer. Sports Data and SGMA include age 6 and above, which adds 13% to the base.] and time periods.)
We've used averages for those numbers which differ significantly.

Lacrosse data from: SGMA and USLacrosse.org.
 

2.

The Outdoor Industry Foundation (OIF) reports 75 million hiked at least once in 2004, the NSGA reports 28 M hiked more than once and SGMA reports about 40 M. American Sports Data includes people over age 6 for a Day Hiking hiking total of 37 M.
3.

Golf has been declining for the last five years, by 2.5%/year since 2001.

4. OIF reports 80 million fishing participants in 2004, while the the NSGA reports 40 million. According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation (OIF) fly fishing spiked in 2004 with a 40% increase to 18 million.
According to SGMA both fly fishing and total fishing dropped in 2004.
According to a 2003 Fly Fisherman magazine article there were 13 million in 2003.
National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation
A survey commissioned by the American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) and later published in Outdoors Unlimited reported that there were 6.5 million active fly-fishers age 16 or older in the United States in 1999. The Survey indicates that 10.9 million people have fly-fished at least once in the past 12 months. (Article)

According to a 2005 Study by the Outdoor Industry Foundation for OIA, 159 million Americans age 16 and older (71.6% of that population. 59% of females ) (56% of participants are males, up from a 50/50 mix in 1998) participated in at least one of 22 human powered outdoor recreation activities in 2004. This is a 6% increase over 1998.
They distinguish "participants" as people who participated at least once during the year from "Enthusiasts" as those whose participation was in the top 15%.

Significant participant growth from 1998 to 2004 occurred in canoeing, snowshoeing, Telemark skiing and trail running. In addition to those enthusiasts grew in single track bicycling, dirt road bicycling, hiking, and rafting.

Participation by region:
West 78%
N. Central 72%
S. Central 70%
East 68%
American's Participation In Outdoor Recreation - 1999 - 2002 National Survey on Recreation and the Environment (NSRE) by the USDA Forest Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
See Recreation participation trends for data thru 2004.
Percent and number of people 16 years and older in the U.S. participating in 12 types of outdoor recreational activities, 1999-2003.
Type of Outdoor Activity % Num-
ber
Participated in any Type of Activity 97.6 207.9
Trail/Street/Road Activities
(Biking, Hiking, Walking, ..)
88.3 188.2
Traditional Social Activities
(Family Gathering, Picnic)
80.6 171.8
Viewing & Photographing Activities 73.9 157.5
Viewing & Learning Activities 67.3 143.4
Driving for Pleasure Activities 61.5 131.1
Swimming Activities 61.3 130.6
Boating/Floating/sailing Activities 36.2 77.1
Fishing 33.9 72.2
Snow & Ice Activities 26.4 56.3
Outdoor Team Sports 22.7 48.4
Hunting 11.1 23.7
Activities% Num-
ber
Outdoor Adventure Activities 55.7 119
  Hiking 22.4 48
  Backpacking 10.5 23
  Mountain climbing 6.3 13
  Rock climbing 4.3 9
  Caving 4.2 9
  Off-road driving 18.5 40
  Horseback riding 9.6 20
Backpacking & Camping Activities% Num-
ber
Backpacking 10.4 22.2
Developed Camping 26.4 56.3
Primitive Camping 15.9 33.9
Visit a Wilderness or Primitive Area 32.0 68.2
Gather Mushrooms, Berries or
Other Natural Products
28.5 60.7
Some data from Recreation participation trends at the USDA Forest Service.
Sports Spending: (2004 per NSGA)
$ Billions
Recreational Transportation $36
  (bicycles, pleasure boats and motors, RVs and Snowmobiles)
Equipment *                 $23
Footwear                    $15
Clothing                    $11
Health Club/Y memberships   $12 (approx.)
* Top equipment categories are: Exercise Equip-$5 B; Golf Equip-3.2; Hunting and Firearms-2.9; Fishing Tackle-2; Camping-1.5

Fitness:
Mountain Athlete - Fitness exercises.
Fitness Trends

See Also:
Outdoor Deaths
Popular Destinations for sports and recreation (skiing, fly-fishing, golf, scuba, ...)
Nature-Deficit Disorder
Sports for Skiing, Rock-Climbing, Cycling, Fishing, Sailing...
Recreation participation trends at the USDA Forest Service.
OUTDOOR RECREATION PARTICIPATION STUDY - 2005 Edition Prepared by Leisure Trends Group for the Outdoor Industry Assn.
hobbies
Recreation/Sports Categories
Outdoor Industry Association
Off-road Vehicle (ORV) Users at the US Forest Service
American Sports Data, INC (Great Outdoor Revolution)
SGMA (Extreme Sports: Ranking)


last updated 23 May 2006