Fitness for the future: 45% of Americans exercise to prevent future health problems

January 26, 2017

It seems many Americans are taking a proactive approach to their health and wellness as new research from Mintel reveals that nearly half (45 percent) of exercisers say that they exercise to prevent future health problems, including two in five (39 percent) who exercise to reduce stress. Concerns about short- and long-term health are a motivating factor for the majority of Americans given that over two thirds (64 percent) of exercisers say that improving overall health is their biggest motivation to work out.

Future physical well-being aside, American exercisers are also interested in aesthetics as looking better (44 percent), toning muscles (39 percent) and losing weight (36 percent) rank among the top reasons for exercising. What’s more, seeing improvements in body composition (46 percent) and fitness (39 percent) are sources of motivation for consumers to keep up their exercise regimens.

22% of US exercisers say tracking their workouts/fitness inspires them
to exercise
Wearable fitness trackers appear to be a motivating factor as more than one fifth (22 percent) of US exercisers say tracking their workouts/fitness inspires them to exercise. Indeed, more than one quarter (26 percent) of exercisers say that although they don’t currently use a wearable fitness tracker, they plan to use one in the future, and nearly one third (31 percent) say that they like to buy the newest fitness gadgets.

“Improving one’s health is the most common motivation for Americans to work out, with specific focus on future health and wellness. Our research reveals that US exercisers are inspired to work up a sweat to improve energy levels, mood and quality of sleep, highlighting that an emphasis on the overall health benefits of exercise may be a more impactful key message among marketers in the fitness industry,” said Dana Macke, Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst at Mintel. “While goals such as improvement in overall health can be harder to quantify, fitness trackers can help measure a wider variety of goals, including number of steps, hours of sleep and minutes of activity. Even still, despite the popularity of wearable fitness trackers, exercisers are more likely to feel motivated when they run faster or feel stronger.”

It seems the best exercise in life is free, as Mintel research reveals that nearly seven in ten (68 percent) US exercisers walk as part, or all, of their fitness routine. Other top activities to stay in shape are also easy on the wallet, including running (30 percent) and bodyweight exercises (30 percent), such as sit-ups or pushups.

Once considered niche fitness activities, yoga and Pilates have hit the mainstream with almost one in five (19 percent) exercisers in the US including these methods in their fitness regimen. Cardio machines are nearly as popular, with cycling/spinning (19 percent) and elliptical/stair/rowing machines (18 percent) used regularly.

49% of US exercisers
believe a gym membership is money well
Owning fitness equipment for use at home (48 percent) is even more popular than a membership to a traditional gym (35 percent), among those who exercise at least monthly. Indeed, less than half (49 percent) of US exercisers believe a gym membership is money well spent, while just two in five (43 percent) agree that fitness classes are worth the cost. What’s more, nearly one third (32 percent) of US exercisers say that they use free workout videos, while only 15 percent use a paid fitness video subscription as part of their routine.

“The three most popular forms of exercise have one important factor in common – they are all free. Cost is a barrier for the new wave of fitness trends, as only a small segment of exercisers have the money or desire to participate in boutique spin, barre or interval classes. Ownership of home gym equipment also highlights some of the constraints exercisers face, such as lack of time, money and motivation. As fitness brands find new ways for exercisers to put their home gym equipment to use, there’s room for growth in the area of paid fitness video services that bring workout classes to the living room,” concluded Macke.

Press copies of Mintel’s Exercise Trends US October 2016 report and interviews with Dana Macke, Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst, are available on request from the press office.


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