Fitness and Exercise Statistics

Working Out With The Data: Fitness Statistics (Good, Bad, Scary!)

When it comes to fitness statistics, there’s a lot to unpack!

It’s a fact that not enough of us get the recommended amount of exercise each week.

In this article you can learn more about that, plus find out the fittest state and the global challenge to get more people moving.

Read on to discover the good, the bad, and a few scary, fitness statistics:

General Fitness and Exercise Statistics

  • Just one in five adults in the US take part in exercise each day.[1]
  • Only 23% of US adults do the recommended amount of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity each week.[2]
  • The average active American spends just over 11 hours each week on their health and fitness regime.[3]
  • According to Fitbit data, running is the most popular form of exercise globally.[4]
  • Yoga is the most popular form of group exercise in the US.[5]
  • People who exercise regularly, lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 50%.[6]
  • In 2018, 42.4% of adults across the United States were classed as obese.[7]
  • 84 million adults in the US use a health or fitness app and the number is projected to grow. [8]
  • 50% of people who start an exercise program will drop out within six months.[9]
  • In 2018, US consumers spent 3.86 billion dollars on fitness equipment for home use.[10]
  • Low levels of physical activity are associated with $117 billion in healthcare costs each year in the US.[11]

The statistics don’t lie — we’re not getting enough exercise!

In fact, just one in four of us get the recommended amount of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity each week.

Focusing on aerobic exercise only, the results are a little more encouraging, with 53.3% meeting the recommendation.[12]

However we know the importance of muscle-strengthening to our overall wellbeing, with improved posture and back pain relief, being just two of the benefits.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, as well muscle-strengthening activities.

General fitness and exercise statistics – infographic

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Fitness Statistics by Demographics

  • 26.3% of men meet the national standards for exercise, compared to only 18.8% of women.[13]
  • People aged between 18 and 34 are the most likely to exercise, with more than half  exercising at least three times a week.[14]
  • Only 11.8% of those living in poverty are able to meet the exercise standard.[15]
  • People of mixed ethnicity are the most active out of all the ethnic groups.[16]
  • Just 24% of children under 17 years old participate in 60 minutes of physical activity each day.[17]
  • Longitudinal data shows that the higher your education level, the higher your levels of physical activity.[18]

It might surprise you to read that more men meet the physical exercise standards than women.

Their motivations for keeping fit are different too!

Research shows that men exercise more for enjoyment, whereas women report exercising for weight loss and toning.

Another shock in the above statistics might be the fact that your wealth and education level impacts on your physical activity level.

It’s certainly worth mentioning that the statistics don’t take into account work-related physical activity.

Lower-income professions in general tend to be more physical, so people could be meeting the standard purely through their day-to-day work.

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Fitness Statistics by State

These five states have the highest number of adults that meet the exercise guidelines:[19]

  1. Colorado – 32.5%
  2. Idaho – 31.4%
  3. = New Hampshire – 30.7%
  4. = Washington D.C. – 30.7%
  5. Vermont – 29.5%

Below are the five states with the lowest number of adults that meet the exercise guidelines:[20]

  1. Mississippi – 13.5%
  2. Kentucky – 14.6%
  3. South Carolina – 14.8%
  4. Indiana – 15.1%
  5. Arkansas – 15.7%

When we look at fitness statistics by state, we see some shocking differences.

It’s unknown why the divide is so great, however it’s thought that environmental and economic factors could be at play.

If you want to stay fit though you definitely need to move to Colorado. They’ve been recognised as the fittest state for more than a decade!

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Fitness in the Workplace Statistics

  • Over 60% of employers said introducing workplace wellness programs had reduced their organization’s healthcare costs.[21]
  • Employees with an unhealthy diet were 66% more likely to have high presenteeism, meaning they turn up for work but aren’t productive due to ill health.[22]
  • Due to the pandemic, it is thought that a quarter of all gyms in the US closed during 2020.[23]
  • 40% of US adults exercised at home for the first time during 2020.[24]
  • Corporate investment in workplace wellness programs is expected to reach $66.2 billion by 2027.[25]
  • Up to 80% of US businesses that provide fitness programs in the workplace, believe they reduce absenteeism and boost productivity.[26]

If you’re interested to know whether workplace wellness initiatives can help people stay fit, it seems they can!

However, the workplace has changed a lot over the last few years due to the pandemic.

We’re now seeing more people exercising at home, with sales of at-home workout equipment at an all time high.

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Global Exercise Statistics

  • According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 adults don’t meet the global recommended physical activity levels.[27]
  • Citizens of the Netherlands are the most active, spending more than 12 hours a week on physical exercise.[28]
  • People who live in Brazil are the least active, spending just three hours a week on physical exercise.[29]
  • 81% of adolescents between 11 and 17 years old don’t get enough physical activity.[30]
  • Between 1991 and 2006, the average weekly physical activity levels among adults in China dropped by 32%.[31]
  • People who live in low-income countries are twice as likely to be physically active compared to high-income countries.[32]
  • 5,000,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year if the global population was more active.[33]

By taking a global view we’re able to see that other countries around the world are facing the same challenges as the US.

Yet with millennials exercising more than any other generation (likely inspired by insta-famous fitness influencers!), perhaps we’ll start to see the statistics improve.

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Interested to know more about the fitness industry?

We’ve compiled a list of 30 fitness facts that are sure to keep you moving, and help you stay motivated!

References

  1. Statista (2021). Physical Activity - Statistics & Fact [Online]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/topics/1749/physical-activity/#topicHeader__wrapper [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Exercise/Physical Activity [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/exercise.htm [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  3. Catterall-Decalmer, V. (2018). How Much Time Do Americans Spend on their Health & Fitness? [Online]. My Protein. Available from: https://us.myprotein.com/thezone/training/american-health-fitness-survey/ [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  4. Forgione, M. (2015). What’s the most popular workout in the world? [Online]. Los Angeles Times. Available from: https://www.latimes.com/travel/la-trb-fitbit-global-workouts-20150824-story.html [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  5. Dominic, A. (2019). 2019's 10 Most Popular Forms of Group Exercise, According to MINDBODY [Online]. Club Industry. Available from: https://www.clubindustry.com/special-report/2019-s-10-most-popular-forms-group-exercise-according-to-mindbody [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  6. NHS (2021). Benefits of exercise [Online]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/ [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Adult Obesity Facts [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  8. Statista (2021). Number of health and fitness app users in the United States from 2018 to 2022 [Online]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1154994/number-us-fitness-health-app-users/ [Accessed 10 December 2021].
  9. Linke, S., Gallo, L. and Norman, G. (2011). Attrition and Adherence Rates of Sustained vs. Intermittent Exercise Interventions [Online]. US National Library of Medicine. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181282/ [Accessed 10 December 2021].
  10. Tighe, D. (2021). Fitness equipment in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts [Online]. Statista. Available from: https://www.statista.com/topics/5325/fitness-equipment-in-the-us/ [Accessed 10 December 2021].
  11. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Lack of Physical Activity [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/factsheets/physical-activity.htm [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see footnote 2)
  13. Cunningham, S. (2021). Fitness: The Average American [Online]. The Average American. Available from: https://theaverageamerican.medium.com/fitness-the-average-american-e2353f249ec2 [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  14. Catterall-Decalmer, V. (see footnote 3)
  15. Cunningham, S. (see footnote 13)
  16. Saffer, H. et al. (2011). Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Differences in Physical Activity [Online]. US National Library of Medicine. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4306423/ [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  17. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). CDC Healthy Schools - Physical Activity Facts [Online]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/facts.htm [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  18. Shaw, B. and Spokane, L. (2008). Examining the Association Between Education Level and Physical Activity Changes During [Online]. Name: US National Library of Medicine. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2570711/ [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  19. CBS News (2018). States with the highest and lowest exercise rates [Online]. Available from: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-exercise-rates/ [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  20. CBS News (see footnote 19)
  21. SFM (2018). 10 statistics that make the case for workplace wellness programs [Online]. Available from: https://www.sfmic.com/10-workplace-wellness-programs-statistics/ [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  22. Merrill, R. et al. (2012). Presenteeism according to healthy behaviors, physical health, and work environment [Online]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22856386/ [Accessed 10 December 2021].
  23. Rizzo, N. (2021). COVID's Impact on the Fitness Industry [35+ Stats and Facts] [Online]. RunRepeat. Available from: https://runrepeat.com/pandemics-impact-fitness-industry [Accessed 10 December 2021].
  24. Rizzo, N. (see footnote 23)
  25. Globe Newswire (2020). Global Corporate Wellness Market to Reach $66.20 Billion by 2027: Allied Market Research [Online]. Available from: https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/10/21/2111679/0/en/Global-Corporate-Wellness-Market-to-Reach-66-20-Billion-by-2027-Allied-Market-Research.html [Accessed 10 December 2021].
  26. Maria, M. (2020). 20+ Incredible Workplace Wellness Statistics You Didn’t Know [Online]. Leftronic. Available from: https://leftronic.com/blog/workplace-wellness-statistics/ [Accessed 10 December 2021].
  27. United Nations (2021). Step up, urges WHO as figures reveal 1 in 4 adults don’t exercise enough [Online]. Available from: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/10/1103032 [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  28. Ipsos (2021). Global Views on Exercise and Team Sports [Online]. Available from: https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/ct/news/documents/2021-08/Global%20views%20on%20sports%20and%20exercise%20Global%20Advisor.pdf [Accessed 10 December 2021].
  29. Ipsos (see footnote 28)
  30. World Health Organization (2020). Physical activity [Online]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  31. Ng, S., Norton, E. and Popkin, B. (2009). Why have physical activity levels declined among Chinese adults? Findings from the 1991-2006 China Health and Nutrition Surveys [Online]. National Library of Medicine. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19232811/ [Accessed 09 December 2021].
  32. World Health Organization (see footnote 30)
  33. United Nations (see footnote 27)