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US Exercise Trends market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Exercise Trends market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?


This Report provides an in-depth look at the current exercise market in the US by analyzing exercise and fitness trends, habits, and behaviors. Sales of specific exercise products are not included. For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

  • Non-exerciser – participates in exercise less than once a month.
  • Exerciser – participates in some form of exercise at least monthly.
  • Regular exerciser – participates in some form of exercise at least weekly.

BMI (body mass index) is a measurement of body fat based on height and weight. The BMI calculation used to categorize respondents in this study is as follows:

(weight in pounds * 703) / (height in inches * height in inches)

Standard BMI classifications are:

  • 18.5 or less – underweight
  • 18.5 to 24.99 – healthy weight
  • 25 to 29.99 – overweight
  • 30+ – obese

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Dana Macke, a leading analyst in the Lifestyles & Leisure sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Fitness facilities and gym memberships have increased in tandem in the last decade, showing that Americans have an increased interest in getting fit. However, even though more are reportedly exercising regularly, obesity rates continue to climb, indicating that adults haven’t been able to offset poor diets with exercise alone. Dana Macke
Associate Director - Lifestyles & Leisure

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • Regular exercise is common
            • Figure 1: Exercise frequency, September 2018
          • The issues
            • Most workouts aren’t intense
              • Figure 2: Exercise intensity, September 2018
            • For some, just starting an exercise routine is a challenge
              • Figure 3: Barriers to exercising, September 2018
            • Aging adults can benefit the most from exercise, yet are least likely to participate
              • Figure 4: Exercise frequency, by age, September 2018
            • The opportunities
              • Help consumers carve out a dedicated space for exercise
                • Figure 5: Exercise location inside the home, by exercise frequency, September 2018
              • Exercise must be fun and offer variety
                • Figure 6: Attitudes toward exercise, September 2018
              • Promote specific health benefits to draw in exercisers
                • Figure 7: Exercise health benefits, September 2018
              • The majority exercise alone, show the positives of solo exercise
                • Figure 8: Exercise fellowship, September 2018
              • Home exercise equipment is poised for a tech update
                • Figure 9: Home exercise equipment, have at home (net), September 2018
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • Exercise is at the top of adults’ wellness hierarchy
                  • Managing health conditions through exercise
                    • Places to exercise are everywhere
                      • Growth opportunities exist in targeting select demographics
                      • The Role of Exercise in Overall Wellness

                        • Exercise is a top focus for adults
                          • Figure 10: Health focuses, March 2018
                        • But, parents don’t prioritize it for their children
                          • Figure 11: Priorities for children’s well-being, November 2017
                      • The Role of Exercise in Managing Ailments

                        • Exercise is a key component for weight managers
                          • Figure 12: Weight management method, August 2018
                        • Managing specific health conditions through exercise
                          • Figure 13: Diabetes management, May 2018
                      • Where People Exercise

                        • Home is where your target heart rate is
                          • Fitness facilities offer consumers more benefits
                            • A breath of fresh air
                              • Figure 14: Exercise location, September 2018
                            • A dedicated space improves consistency, particularly when it’s paid for
                              • Figure 15: Select exercise locations, by exercise frequency, September 2018
                            • Access impacts where people exercise
                              • Figure 16: Select exercise locations, by area, September 2018
                          • Demographic Prospects

                            • Opportunity to engage aging adults in exercise
                              • Figure 17: Exercise frequency, by age, September 2018
                            • Inclusivity is important, yet varied ways to reach diverse exercisers
                                • Figure 18: Attitudes toward exercise, by race and Hispanic origin, September 2018
                            • Exercise Trends – What You Need to Know

                              • Exercise products have a place in the home
                                • Low impact remains the go-to, but there’s a desire to try something new
                                  • The future of exercise is personalized and inclusive
                                  • Home Exercise Products

                                    • Exercise products have a place in the home
                                      • Free weights are the most commonly owned; cardio equipment gets facelift
                                        • Less commonly owned machines are poised for a makeover
                                          • Figure 19: Home exercise equipment, have at home (net), September 2018
                                        • But some are collecting dust
                                          • Figure 20: Home exercise equipment, September 2018
                                        • Women could be the key target for at-home equipment
                                          • Figure 21: Home exercise equipment - have at home (net), by gender, September 2018
                                        • The accessibility of streaming is appealing, yet doesn’t cause adherence
                                          • Figure 22: Streaming workouts – Have at home (net), by age, September 2018
                                      • Exercise Participation

                                        • Low impact exercises remain the go-to
                                          • Figure 23: Type of exercise participated in last 12 months, 2009-18
                                        • Adults are trying (or wanting to try) new exercises
                                            • Figure 24: Interest in types of exercise, September 2018
                                          • Young adults are willing to go outside the comfort zone
                                            • Figure 25: Interest in types of exercise – Would do again/interested in doing (net), by age, September 2018
                                        • What’s Next?

                                          • It’s all in the DNA
                                            • Workout getaways, both far and near
                                              • Mindfulness over matter
                                                • Inclusivity is in
                                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                  • Most everyone is exercising, but not with strong intensity
                                                    • Exercise isn’t for everyone
                                                      • Exercise should be fun
                                                        • Health benefits are expected
                                                          • If you can’t beat them join them
                                                          • Exercise Frequency and Intensity

                                                            • Regular exercise is common
                                                              • Figure 26: Exercise frequency, September 2018
                                                            • Workouts aren’t intense
                                                              • Figure 27: Exercise intensity, September 2018
                                                            • Occasional exercisers don’t bring much intensity to workouts
                                                              • Figure 28: Exercise intensity, by exercise frequency, September 2018
                                                            • Men exercise more regularly and with greater intensity
                                                              • Figure 29: Exercise frequency and Intensity, by gender, September 2018
                                                            • A dedicated exercise location supports more intense workouts
                                                              • Figure 30: Workout location, by exercise intensity, September 2018
                                                          • Barriers to Exercising

                                                            • Exercise doesn’t come easy to everyone
                                                              • Figure 31: Barriers to exercising, September 2018
                                                            • Life stage influences exercise hurdles
                                                              • Figure 32: Barriers to exercising, by age and parental status, September 2018
                                                          • Attitudes toward Exercise

                                                            • Exercise must be fun and offer something new
                                                              • Figure 33: Attitudes toward exercise, September 2018
                                                            • Appearance drives motivation
                                                              • Figure 34: Motivated by improving my appearance, by age, September 2018
                                                            • Men exercise on Mars; women on Venus
                                                              • Figure 35: Select attitudes toward exercise, by gender, September 2018
                                                          • Exercise Health Benefits

                                                            • Health benefits are fundamental
                                                              • Figure 36: Exercise health benefits, September 2018
                                                            • Women turn to exercise to manage weight and stress
                                                              • Figure 37: Select exercise health benefits, by gender, September 2018
                                                            • Seniors seek health benefits; skill and social benefits for 18-24-year-olds
                                                              • Figure 38: Select exercise health benefits, by age, September 2018
                                                            • Regular exercisers have a stronger connection to the benefits
                                                              • Figure 39: Exercise health benefits, by frequency, September 2018
                                                          • Exercise Fellowship

                                                            • The majority exercise alone; camaraderie is still prevalent
                                                              • Figure 40: Exercise fellowship, September 2018
                                                            • Young adults are more social with exercise
                                                              • Figure 41: Exercise fellowship, by age, September 2018
                                                            • Who people exercise with doesn’t impact exercise frequency…
                                                              • Figure 42: Exercise frequency, by exercise fellowship, September 2018
                                                            • …but it does increase some perceived benefits
                                                              • Figure 43: Select exercise benefits, by exercise fellowship, September 2018
                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

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