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Canadians are active, with 68% reporting that they exercise at least once per week. The drive towards regular exercise stems from addressing not only their physical health but also their mental health. The majority of consumers gravitate towards convenient and cost-effective options, with relatively few showing an interest in buying more equipment, memberships or adopting technology. Younger consumers struggle with sustaining motivation, though their quest for new experiences drives an interest in both traditional and experiential fitness events.

This report examines the following issues:

  • Seven in 10 Canadians exercise weekly, yet obesity rates continue to rise
  • Motivation is fickle amongst younger exercisers
  • Tendency towards convenience means low interest in paying for memberships or equipment

What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Seven in 10 Canadians exercise weekly, yet obesity rates continue to rise
            • Figure 1: Exercise frequency, January 2017
          • Motivation is fickle amongst younger exercisers
            • Figure 2: Agreement with ‘I have spurts of motivation that are hard to maintain’, by age, January 2017
          • Tendency towards convenience means low interest in paying for memberships or equipment
            • Figure 3: Usage and interest in fitness products and services, January 2017
          • Opportunities
            • Canadians have a proactive approach to health management
              • Figure 4: Prevention as a primary reason for exercising regularly, by age, January 2017
            • Mental health is taken into consideration as a reason for exercising
              • Figure 5: Mental wellness considerations as primary reason for exercising regularly, January 2017
            • Good level of interest amongst young exercisers for fitness events
              • Figure 6: Any interest or participation in fitness events, by age, January 2017
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • Exercise activities likely constrained by time limitations
                • Budgetary constraints also present a challenge
                  • Frequent exercise isn’t cutting it – Obesity continues to rise
                    • An aging population is a committed one to health management
                    • Market Factors

                      • Time constraints impact exercise activity choices
                        • Healthy living is seen as expensive, a challenge as consumers feel the economic pinch
                          • Figure 7: Monthly movement in selected components of the Canadian Consumer Price Index, seasonally adjusted, December 2011-December 2016
                        • High rates of exercise not enough to counterbalance weight gain
                          • Figure 8: Body mass index, self-reported rate of being overweight or obese among Canadian adults, by gender, 2010-14
                        • An aging population means greater commitment to improving one’s health
                          • Figure 9: Population aged 0-14 and over 65, 1995-2035*
                          • Figure 10: Primary reasons for exercising, by age, January 2017
                      • Key Trends – What You Need to Know

                        • Inspiration (for new exercise challenges) is all around
                          • Adoption of wearables makes little headway
                            • The definition of fitness stretches to actively incorporate mental health
                              • In future, we will see more combinations between fitness and other aspects of life
                              • What’s Working?

                                • Bring it on, tough guy/gal! Fitness classes inspired by tough sports are becoming increasingly prevalent
                                  • Fitness retailers act as team captains and instructors
                                    • Food and drink industries are showing themselves as team players
                                      • Discount gyms making fitness accessible
                                      • What’s Not Working?

                                        • Adoption of wearables remains stagnant
                                          • Boomers are an ideal target for such tools
                                          • What’s Next?

                                            • Fitness now includes mindfulness
                                              • Figure 11: Meditate to make your loved ones happy, November 2016
                                            • Sweat education: when cultural experience meets exercise
                                              • Making rewards real
                                                • Within the fitness industry: mailed rewards provide motivation
                                                  • From the leisure industry: healthy living translates into monetary rewards
                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                    • Most Canadians are regular exercisers
                                                      • Motivations stem from health, prevention and stress reduction more so than appearance
                                                        • The best things in life are free – True for exercises and fitness equipment
                                                          • Canadians are interested in fitness events
                                                            • Canadians have a more proactive eye towards exercise
                                                            • Exercise Frequency

                                                              • The majority of Canadians exercise regularly
                                                                • Figure 12: Exercise frequency, January 2017
                                                              • Young men and older women most likely to be working out daily
                                                                • Figure 13: Exercise frequency, by age and gender, January 2017
                                                                • Figure 14: Agreement with ‘Fitness is a top priority for me’, by age and gender, January 2017
                                                              • Half of Chinese Canadians exercise multiple times per week
                                                                • Financial situation plays a role
                                                                  • Quebecers have good intentions
                                                                    • Figure 15: Agreement with ‘Fitness is a top priority for me’, by province, January 2017
                                                                    • Figure 16: Exercise frequency, by province, January 2017
                                                                • Exercise Motivations

                                                                  • Canadians exercise to proactively manage physical and mental health
                                                                    • Figure 17: Motivations for exercising, January 2017
                                                                  • Exercising is good for mood – in their words
                                                                    • Millennials and women over 55 are exercising for a positive state of mind
                                                                      • Figure 18: My Sister's Hero, September 2014
                                                                      • Figure 19: My Daughter's Hero, September 2014
                                                                      • Figure 20: My Grandson's Hero, September 2014
                                                                    • Women over 55 get active to get better sleep
                                                                      • Over-45s more committed to health, under-45s care about appearance
                                                                        • Figure 21: Preventative and appearance-related motivations, by age, January 2017
                                                                      • Motivation is more fickle amongst younger consumers
                                                                        • Figure 22: Attitudes towards maintaining motivation, by age, January 2017
                                                                    • Types of Exercise

                                                                      • Cost and convenience count when it comes to exercise
                                                                        • Figure 23: Types of exercise participated in, January 2017
                                                                      • Running slows to a walk with age
                                                                        • Figure 24: Walking and running/jogging, by age, January 2017
                                                                      • Opportunities for the running world to inspire the walking one for older consumers
                                                                        • 18-24s drawn to exercises perfect for pro-tips in the form of apps
                                                                          • Group settings appeal to both genders, just in different ways
                                                                            • Figure 25: Team vs class settings, by age and gender, January 2017
                                                                        • Fitness Purchases

                                                                          • Few intend to buy more equipment
                                                                            • Figure 26: Usage and interest in fitness products and services, January 2017
                                                                          • The buddy system may work for fitness facilities to attract young women
                                                                            • Figure 27: Usage and interest in traditional gym memberships and punch card/passes for multiple fitness classes, women 18-24 vs overall, January 2017
                                                                          • Specialized sports plus tech will draw young men
                                                                            • Tech’s social aspect may help convert interest into purchases – particularly for women
                                                                              • Figure 28: Interest in buying fitness-related technology, 18-34s vs overall, January 2017
                                                                          • Fitness Event Interest

                                                                            • Thus far, participation in organized events proves to be quite niche
                                                                              • Figure 29: Fitness event participation and interest, January 2017
                                                                            • Ready, Set, Go – Young Canadians are keen for new experiences
                                                                              • Figure 30: Any interest or participation in fitness events, by age, January 2017
                                                                            • For younger consumers, enthusiasm stems from gathering more unique experiences
                                                                              • Figure 31: Attitudes towards maximizing experiences and interest in doing multiple sports challenges, by age, January 2017
                                                                            • Aim for the heart when targeting younger consumers
                                                                              • Accessibility is a factor for younger enthusiasts
                                                                                • Parents also want in
                                                                                  • Figure 32: Any interest or participation in fitness events, parents vs overall, January 2017
                                                                              • Canadians vs Americans: Motivation to Exercise

                                                                                • Canadians more likely to consider mental health and prevention as reasons to exercise
                                                                                  • The majority of consumers in both countries are active
                                                                                    • Figure 33: Exercise frequency, January 2017 (Canada)/May 2016 (US)
                                                                                  • Daily exercising skews young for the US, more even across ages in Canada
                                                                                    • Figure 34: Exercise frequency, by age, January 2017 (Canada)/May 2016 (US)
                                                                                  • There may be more at stake for Canadians
                                                                                    • Figure 35: Motivations for exercising, January 2017 (Canada)/May 2016 (US)
                                                                                  • Prevention is a priority across age segments in Canada
                                                                                    • Figure 36: Primarily motivated to exercise by prevention of future health problems, by age, January 2017 (Canada)/May 2016 (US)
                                                                                  • Mental health is a driver for middle-aged and older Canadian exercisers
                                                                                    • Figure 37: Primarily motivated to exercise by stress reduction, by age, January 2017 (Canada)/May 2016 (US)
                                                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                  • Data sources
                                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                                      • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                        • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                          • Abbreviations

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