STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Today, in your health, playing sports and staying healthy. NPR has conducted a poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. We asked Americans about sports they played when they were younger and sports they play today. We have two reports, starting with NPR's Patti Neighmond.
PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: Americans say they play more than 50 different types of sports, ranging from hockey and fishing to martial arts and bowling. But Robert Blendon, Harvard professor and co-director of our poll, says the top five are classics.
ROBERT BLENDON: Golf, basketball, baseball, soccer and running.
NEIGHMOND: And the poll finds that competition is a big deal for the majority of Americans who play sports. Fifty-six percent say winning is somewhat or very important to them. About half say they play because they enjoy the game, including 15 percent who say it's because it's a fun thing to do with friends and family. About a quarter say it benefits their health. So it may seem surprising that most adults say they played sports when they were younger, but now, three-quarters say they no longer play.
BLENDON: And the real falloff occurs after age 26.
NEIGHMOND: Health and lack of stamina are big reasons why. People also point to a lack of time and interest.
BLENDON: And the lack of interest may be related to the pressures of employment, of raising a family, of having other types of interest.
NEIGHMOND: But the good news for health, even though most adults no longer play sports, about half say they do some type of regular exercise. The most common - walking, jogging, cardio, aerobic activities and weightlifting. People in our poll say it makes them feel better and helps them maintain and even lose weight. Patti Neighmond, NPR News.
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