The world is a massive place, and most of us barely scratch the surface of seeing it in our lifetimes! Well, if you’ve ever been curious how other countries around the world partake in sporting events and fitness trends, look no further than the list below. If your favorite country didn’t make the list, it’s nothing personal, there’s far too many to include in one article – check to see if they make it on our next edition of Top Sports & Intriguing Fitness Trends from Around the World!
Will you be participating in any of the sports listed below this year? Keep physically fit at LA Fitness so you’re ready to tackle, run and jump your way to victory!
Canada – Lacrosse is known as Canada’s national summer sport and ice hockey as the national winter sport. However, what may come as a surprise is that soccer is currently the most popular sport among Canadian children3, according to Canada’s government site.
Fun fact: Swimmers rejoice; this may be for you. Each year thousands of Canadians participate in the Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver, Canada, an icy cold swim into the English Bay on New Year’s Day. Many dress up in fun and fancy costumes, so if you plan to participate, bring your creative A-game!
Fitness Tip: To help strengthen your shoulders and triceps, and assist in preventing injury when playing lacrosse, try incorporating some military presses into your workout routine. Unsure how much weight to use? Check out a quick tip here!
United States – In 2014, ESPN ranked professional football as the most popular sport in America for at least the 30th straight year.4 With many blockbuster films and popular TV shows featuring the sport, and the Super Bowl dominating as one of America’s favorite pastimes, it is no surprise this hard-hitting sport makes the touchdown as America’s top sport.
Fun fact: LARP, which is short for live action role-playing, has no single point of origin but is incredibly popular in the U.S., North America, Europe and Australia. The earliest recorded LARP group, known as Dagorhir, was founded in the United States in 1977 and focused on fantasy battles.5 Who said playing video games had to be a sedentary activity – grab your garbs and meet up with fellow gamers for a fun and fantastical way to keep fit.
Fitness Tip: Before getting in that early morning workout, eat a healthy breakfast! Why is this so important? Find out the reason here.
Russia – Ice hockey, figure skating, gymnastics and bodybuilding tend to dominate as top sports for this cold climate country. In fact, according to Russia.com, ice hockey is considered the national sport.1
Fun fact: Checkmate! Russians consider chess a competitive sport, and it’s even recognized as one by the International Olympic Committee.2 In fact, the youngest ever undisputed World Champion was Russia’s own Garry Kasparov who later started his own organization known as PCA (Professional Chess Association), a rival organization to FIDE (World Chess Federation).
China – While China may be known for making its mark in martial arts, its citizens are champions at table tennis! Table tennis is both a popular and revered game in China because anyone can play, regardless of income level or age. According to one source, ping-pong tables are so prevalent in China that “nearly all schools, factories and office building have a few tables.”6
Fun fact: Each year China hosts a traditional Dragon Boat Festival, which commemorates the life and death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese poet and scholar. The celebration consists of good food and drink, along with dragon boat races of course.
Brazil – Football, or soccer as Americans refer to it, is Brazil’s most popular sport. According to FIFA, there are 13.2 million football players in Brazil7 – and that’s not including the ones who practice it just for fun! Did you know? The national team has won 5 FIFA World Cup titles!
Fun fact: Brazilians take their fitness very seriously, which should come as no surprise considering that the country ranks as having the second largest fitness industry in the world.8
Australia – Australian football, referred to as simply “footy” takes the top spot for beloved sport game of this country. However, rugby comes in a very close second9, with both sports drawing huge audiences and casting wide appeal.
Fun fact: You may have heard about the discus throw, or maybe even the javelin throw, but have you heard about tuna tossing? That’s right, the Tuna Tossing World Championship occurs annually in Port Lincoln, Australia, and it’s exactly what is sounds like. They even have a competition for the little Aussies, called the prawn toss.10 Time to start working on your throw if you’re going to give this competition a go.
India – Would you guess Yoga is the most popular fitness/sport activity in India? If so, you would be incorrect. According to a study published by SMG Insight/YouGov, cricket comes in the top spot as India’s most revered sport. In fact, “The Board of Control for Cricket in India is the global leader of profits in the world of cricket!”11
Fun fact: While yoga has become increasingly popular over the years in the U.S., its origins lie in India. Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice rooted in Hinduism, which was introduced to Americans by the Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda in 1893.12 The Indian government is currently trying to get yoga recognized throughout the world as India’s cultural property.13
France – Football (soccer) and cycling lead as two of the top sports of France. With France having won a FIFA World Cup and the popularity of the Tour de France, it is easy to see why the French hold these sports close to heart.
Fun fact: Parkour fans have France to thank. Georges Hébert, a former French naval officer, developed the training method after travelling through Africa and witnessing the indigenous peoples’ athleticism with their natural environment. His parkour training method is still used by the French military today.14
Fitness Tip: Soccer players and parkour lovers take note! Find out how to help prevent shin splints here.
Japan – While baseball and soccer are popular in Japan, The Japan National Tourism Organization lists sumo, kendo, judo, karate, and aikido as some of the nation’s traditional sports.15
Fun fact: Japan is known for being over-the-top in fun and wacky ways when it comes to certain things. Take for example, Japan’s weight loss sunglasses which are tinted blue in order to help our brains find the food unappetizing.16 Research has shown that blue is the least-appetizing food color17, therefore in theory, this should help users of these sunglasses eat less, which could help lead to weight loss.
England – According to a study reported by The Daily Telegraph, swimming ranks as the most popular sport in England, with soccer falling in at number four.18
Fun fact: Have you heard about morning raves? Popular in London, and spreading their way around the world, these early morning dance parties are everything you’d find in a rave, sans the drugs and alcohol. While it may seem like a silly concept, folks that have attended feel that it’s a great way to start the day and feel more energized19 before setting off for work or school.
Spain – Bossaball is a team sport that originated in Spain. It combines various elements taken from volleyball, football (soccer), trampoline and capoeira (a Brazilian dance exercise). This sport sounds like it would be the next fun thing to give a try.
Scotland – If you’re ever planning to attend the Scottish Highland games you better have your kilt ready. Draped in traditional Scottish history, this fun sporting event includes plenty of food, drink and Scottish dance, not to mention a plethora of skills events that will leave you wanting to try your own luck.
Ireland – According to DiscoveringIreland.com, the main sports of Ireland include hurling and Gaelic football20, which are included in the Gaelic Games located in Croke Park in Dublin.
New Zealand – Have you ever heard of poi dancing? It originated years ago in New Zealand by the indigenous Maori people. They used it to increase their flexibility, strength and coordination. “Poi” is the Maori word for “ball” on a cord21, which is exactly what the dancers use.
Philippines – Did you know? Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines. That’s right. In fact, the Philippines is “Nike’s third largest basketball market after the U.S. and China.”23
Fun Fitness Fact: Did you know? The roots of racquetball are believed to have come from prisons in the 1800’s “when inmates were given balls which they would hit against walls.”22 It’s a fun and fast-paced sport that has gained popularity over the years. In fact, LA Fitness recognizes this and is one of the largest racquetball providers in the United States.*
Share with us your favorite sport below (weird/wacky/fun) – we would love to hear it! Keep training with us at LA Fitness so you’re ready for whatever next sporting game comes your way!
*Amenities vary by location. Racquetball court use may be subject to an additional fee.
- “Ice Hockey.” Sports in Russia – Ice Hockey. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Channel, Travel. “Russian Sports.” Travel Channel. Travel Channel, 10 Feb. 2011. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Government of Canada; Canadian Heritage; Communications. “Home.” Government of Canada; Canadian Heritage; Communications. N.p., 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Rovell, Darren. “NFL Most Popular for 30th Year in Row.” ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 26 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 July 2017.
- “Live Action Role-playing Game.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 June 2017. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Hays, Jeffrey. “TABLE TENNIS AND PING PONG DIPLOMACY IN CHINA.” Facts and Details. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2017.
- tsumi, Igor. “15 Most Popular Sports In Brazil.” The Brazil Business. N.p., 21 July 2014. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Verotti Farah, Ana Gabriela. “The Gym Industry in Brazil.” The Brazil Business. N.p., 30 Jan. 2013. Web. 26 July 2017.
- “Top 10 Most Popular Sports in Australia Sporteology.” Sporteology. N.p., 06 Sept. 2016. Web. 26 July 2017.
- “Top 10 Wacky Sports around the World.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters, 20 Apr. 2012. Web. 26 July 2017.
- “Top 10 Most Popular Sports in India | Most Followed Sports in India.” Sporteology. N.p., 01 June 2017. Web. 26 July 2017.
“Does Yoga Belong to India?” The Week – All You Need to Know about Everything That Matters. N.p., 07 Feb. 2015. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Lawrence, Cameron. “How Parkour Works.” HowStuffWorks. N.p., 02 May 2006. Web. 26 July 2017.
- “Traditional Japanese Sports.” Japan National Tourism Organization | Japan In-depth | Exotic Experience. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Kopman, Jeffrey. “13 Crazy Fitness Trends from Around the World.” The Weather Channel. N.p., 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Frucci, Adam. “Weight Loss Sunglasses Make Your Food Look Gross so You Won’t.” Gizmodo. Gizmodo.com, 24 Mar. 2008. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Tmg. “What Is the Most Popular Sport in England?” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 15 Feb. 2017. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Rubin, Gareth. “Wake up to Breakfast Raves – They’re a Healthy Way to Start Your Working Day.” The Observer. Guardian News and Media, 01 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 July 2017.
- “Activities & Sports.” Discovering Ireland Vacations. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Malcolm. “Learn All about History and Culture. Free Lesson on Poi History History of Maori POI in New Zealand.” Home of Poi. Home of Poi, 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 July 2017.
- “Athletic Scholarships.” The History Of Racquetball. Where And How Racquetball Started.N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2017.
- Henson, Joaquin M. “Why Filipinos Love Basketball.” Philstar.com. N.p., 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 26 July 2017.
Debbie James, RDN, helps answer a reader’s question on how to consume 100% daily value of vitamins and minerals without supplements.