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THINK you have targeted your car-buying audience by focusing on sport advertising and sponsorships seen by millions of fans on TV and at major sports grounds?

For many advertisers, targeting sports fans is the way to go and car companies are high on the list of sponsors in the various football codes at the elite end of the sport.

But, when it comes to those who actually take part in various sports, the picture changes dramatically according to Roy Morgan Research, which spent 12 months talking to around 50,000 people about the sport in which they participate rather than watch as spectators.

The results are surprising.

For example, despite AFL being one of Australia’s parochial sport favourites, it ranks a mere 11th on the Roy Morgan National Sports Participation report.

But if your dealership or your auto brand really wants to identify with a group with a massive common interest you would be advised to look no further than people who walk for exercise.

Roy Morgan found that walking for exercise is Australia’s most popular sport or activity.

It reported this week that almost half of adult Australians, or 47.9 per cent, regularly go for a vigorous stroll. That is a group common interest of something like 10 million people, and the number has risen by around 800,000 participants since 2014.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said walking for exercise is easily the most popular sport or activity undertaken regularly by Australians. It is more than three times as popular as going swimming or going to the gym or weight training.

“Nearly half of Australian adults regularly go walking for exercise,” she said.

Ms Levine said that for younger Australians, aged between six to 13 years old, swimming (47.7 per cent) marginally pips soccer (45.7 per cent) as the most regular sport or activity undertaken.

“The world game is ranked far ahead of rivals Australian football (18.2 per cent), Rugby League (11.0 per cent) and Rugby Union (4.8 per cent),” she said.

“Team sports dominate for Aussie kids with 10 of the top 20 sports reliant on the involvement of a team.

“In contrast, only three of the top 20 sports in which Australians aged 14 and over regularly participate are distinctly team sports – soccer (3.0 per cent), basketball (1.9 per cent) and netball (1.6 per cent).

“There is also a huge gap between the levels of participation between the different age groups. Virtually all sports and activities measured on both surveys show higher rates of participation for kids aged six to 13 years old than those aged 14 and over.

“Of the sports and activities measured on both surveys it is swimming that ranks highest.”

By Neil Dowling