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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Aerobics classes are growing in popularity at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville at a time when nationwide interest is declining.

UT-Knoxville averages about 15,000 students, faculty and staff in aerobics programs each semester, aerobics supervisor Clay Brown said Friday.

Participation in UT’s high- and low-impact and water aerobics programs increased this year, Brown said.

Across the nation, however, aerobics participation is declining. A recent survey of 18,000 Americans by a demographics firm, American Sports Data, found that high-impact aerobics activity was down 8.2 percent in 1995; low-impact was down 3.3 percent.

Brown said aerobics participation is higher at UT because the average age of participants is younger than the national population.

“We have a heritage of high-impact aerobics, while other university programs based on low-impact or another form of exercise might have evolved a different way,” Brown said.

Dr. Ed Howley, UT-Knoxville professor of exercise science, said the nationwide decrease in aerobics activity is partly due to the baby-boomer generation growing older.

“The message that we have seen preached in recent years is for people to walk more, or do things like vigorous gardening or raking leaves,” Howley said. “For people who lead a sedentary lifestyle and can’t or don’t do strenuous, high-impact aerobics, this is a positive change.”

Contact: Clay Brown (423-974-6037), Ed Howley (423-974-1294)