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Report Methodology

This Overview Report from the Physical Activity Council, (PAC), is produced by a partnership of eight of the major trade associations in US sports, fitness, and leisure industries. Each partner produces more detailed reports on their specific areas of interest, but this Overview Report summarizes “topline” data about levels of activity in the US. The overall aim of this report is to establish levels of activity and identify key trends in sports, fitness, and recreation participation in the US. For more detailed results, please contact the relevant partner listed below.

During 2016 and the beginning of 2017, a total of 24,134 online interviews were carried out with a nationwide sample of individuals and households from the US Online Panel of over one million people operated by IPSOS/Synovate. A total of 11,453 individual and 12,681 household surveys were completed. The total panel is maintained to be representative of the US population for people ages six and older. Over sampling of ethnic groups took place to boost responses from typically under responding groups.
The 2016 participation survey sample size of 24,134 completed interviews provides a high degree of statistical accuracy. All surveys are subject to some level of standard error - that is, the degree to which the results might differ from those obtained by a complete census of every person in the US. A sport with a participation rate of five percent has a confidence interval of plus or minus 0.31 percentage points a the 95 percent confidence level.

A weighting technique was used to balance the data to reflect the total US population ages six and above. The following variables were used: gender, age, income, ethnicity, household size, region, population density, and panel join date. The total population figure used was 296,251,344 people ages six and older. “Inactivity” is defined to include those participants who reported no physical activity in 2016 and an additional 16 sports/fitness activities that require minimal to no physical exertion.

Data reported for “winter sports” are based on seasons: 2011 year is 2010/2011 season, 2012 year is 2011/2012 season, 2013 year is 2012/2013 season, 2014 year is 2013/2014 season, 2015 year is 2014/2015 season, and 2016 year is 2015/2016 season.

If you have specific questions regarding the methodology, please contact Sports Marketing Surveys USA at or (561) 427-0647.

The Physical Activity Council is made up of the following industry leading organizations:

  • GOLF: The National Golf Foundation (NGF) p: 561.744.6006 e:
  • SNOWSPORTS: The Snowsports Industries America (SIA) p: 703.556.9020 e:
  • OUTDOOR : The Outdoor Foundation (OF) p: 202.271-3511 e:
  • TENNIS: The Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA) p: 866.686.3036 e:
  • CLUB/INSTITUTIONAL FITNESS: International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) p: 617.951.0155 e:
  • TEAM SPORTS / INDIVIDUAL SPORTS / GENERAL FITNESS / WATERSPORTS: The Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) p: 301.495.6321 e: and USA Football p: (317) 489-4417 web: