Sports play an important role in the daily lives of people around the world, with the global sports market expected to be worth a whopping $599.9 billion by 2025. Whether you’re an active participant trying to keep fit, or a spectator watching for entertainment, there’s a sport out there for everyone.
But which are the sportiest nations around the world? To find out more, we investigated the sporting backgrounds of over 130 countries, comparing them across 10 different criteria, covering both professional performance and personal participation:
The world’s sportiest country is… Germany!
Germany takes the title of the world’s sportiest country with a score of 70.42 out of 100. The European nation placed in the top 10 for five different categories, as well holding the top spot for elite sport ranking and Winter Olympic medals, with a total of 408 – 150 gold, 145 silver and 113 bronze medals.
The United States of America claims the number two position with a score of 67.96 out of 100, as well as the top spot for total Summer Olympic medals, with a whopping 2,522 – 1,022 gold, 795 silver and 705 bronze medals.
Sweden comes in third place, with a score of 66.16, followed by Norway with 64.47 and Finland with 61.45.
Which countries are the most active?
While Germany and the United States of America dominate the professional performance categories, we get a different picture when looking at personal participation.
Taiwan takes the top spot for sports participation, with an impressive 81% of the Taiwanese population taking part in some form of sport or physical activity on regular basis. Norway and New Zealand aren’t far behind, with both countries enjoying a 79% sports participation rate, followed by Australia with 77% and Iceland and Mongolia with 75%.
Which countries spend the most time in the gym?
When it comes to working out in the gym, Sweden comes out on top, with almost a quarter of the population having a gym membership – a total of 22,239 gym memberships per 100,000 people.
Norway comes in a close second, with 21,600 gym memberships per 100,000 people, followed by the United States of America with 19,393 per 100,000 people. Denmark and the Netherlands round out the top five, with 18,957 and 17,508 gym memberships per 100,000 people respectively.
Which countries have the sportiest hobbies?
When it comes to recreational activities, 48% of people in Finland class health and fitness as a hobby, followed by 43% of people in India and South Africa and 42% of people in Sweden and Mexico.
Meanwhile, 48% of people in Turkey enjoy playing sport as a hobby, followed, by 43% of people in Morocco, 42% of people in Austria and 41% of people in Argentina.
India takes the top spot for the final three categories, with 38% watching sport as a hobby, 37% using some sort of fitness app and 38% having spent money on a health and fitness service in the last year.
Take Home Message
There’s no denying Germany has earned its title as the world’s sportiest country, with an impressive professional success rate, as well as well as a general love for all things sport and fitness. But it doesn’t matter where you’re from, everyone can enjoy the physical and mental benefits offered by sport, both through participating and spectating.
We looked at 134 countries around the world, collecting data across 10 different categories. Using a weighted ranking system, each country was then given a score for each of the 10 criteria, which were then combined to create the final score out of 100. Each of the 10 criteria made up 10% of the final score. If a country was missing data for a specific category, an international average was calculated and given to those countries with incomplete data.
For the medal counts, we used combined historic totals for Germany (Germany, East Germany & West Germany) and Russia (Russian Empire, Soviet Union & Russian Federation).
The ranking categories were the following:
- Olympic Medals: The total number of gold, silver and bronze medals won at the Summer Olympics.
- Winter Olympic Medals: The total number of gold, silver and bronze medals won at the Winter Olympics.
- Elite Sport Ranking: An annual ranking based on the international results in all sports recognized by the Global Association of International Sports Federation.
- Sports Participation Rate: The share of the total population who participate in a sport or physical activity on a regular basis (at least monthly).
- Gym Memberships: The number of gym memberships per 100,000 residents.
- Hobbies (Health & Fitness): The percentage of the population who list “health and fitness” as one of their hobbies.
- Hobbies (Playing sport): The percentage of the population who list “playing sport” as one of their hobbies.
- Hobbies (Watching sport): The percentage of the population who list “watching sport” as one of their hobbies.
- Fitness Apps: The percentage of the population who regularly use a health & fitness related smartphone app.
- Fitness Spend: The percentage of the population who have purchased health & fitness services in the past 12 months.
Data sources included Statista, the Global Wellness Institute, World Sport Ranking and Wikipedia. All data accurate as of 1st July 2021.