Going to the Gym is the Most Practiced Sport in Costa Rica and Behind it is Soccer, According to a UCR Study

    Almost half of the population in the GAM does not practice sports

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    Going to the gym (that is, lifting weights and using machines) is the most recreationally practiced sport in Costa Rica, surpassing soccer.Among those who do practice some sport, 59% say they go to the gym recreationally and 8% do so professionally or semi-professionally.

     While in recreational soccer, including those known as “mejengas”, it drops to 37% and in the semi-professional or professional case it is practiced by 11% of the population.

     This follows the presentation of the first report on the Costa Rican Longitudinal Sports Research Program, led by the School of Business Administration of the University of Costa Rica (EAN-UCR).

     For the researcher in charge, Francisco Navarro, this data is a “surprise.”

    “The gym, this typical place with machines and weights, is today the most practiced sport in Costa Rica.  Not football anymore, which appears in second position, well below the gym,” Navarro said.

     Other disciplines such as swimming, basketball, volleyball, athletics, boxing and crossfit appear with percentages less than 10%, both in recreational practice and with some level of professionalism. “We can see that those sports that are practiced by fewer people, many of them do so in a semi-professional condition,” Navarro commented on this group.

    The data also shows a greater commitment to sport in those who practice the gym as a physical activity.Of them, 20% do it between three and five times a week, while in the case of football only 5% do it that frequently.On the contrary, those who go one to two times a week represent 9% in the gym and 21% for soccer.

     Navarro used the example of CrossFit.  In this case, no one answered that it takes between one or two days.  Everyone does it a minimum of three times and most between five and seven times. “For this sport in particular we have a high commitment,” explained the researcher.

     To reach these results, the team in charge interviewed 403 Costa Ricans, inhabitants of the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM).  Of those people, 190 were men, 206 women and seven non-binary.


    46% of the population in sedentary mode

    The researcher noted as worrying that 46% of the population is not practicing any type of sport, as concluded by the data study.Lack of motivation (65%) and not enjoying any sport (30%) are the two main reasons why people stop doing physical activity.

     Misinformation about available physical activities or the lack of alternatives could be the reason why almost half of the population is sedentary. “For example, a person might feel the need to leave the gym due to back problems, however they do not value other alternatives such as swimming to stay active,” Navarro said.

     National football attracts 42% of the population and Saprissa is the favorite The study also showed that in the GAM, 42% of the population is interested in national football, while 58% are indifferent.

     However, the report highlights that this is still a significant number, representing around 2.2 million people.Regarding the team of choice, 45% of the mentions went to DeportivoSaprissa, while the Liga Deportiva Alajuelense received 32%.It is followed by Club Sport Herediano with 15% and Club Sport Cartaginés with 6%.

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