A recent study by the employee wellness company Gympass reveals that 79% of respondents feel better when they follow a regular exercise regimen. On the other hand, 48% report being too busy with other work/life obligations to manage one.
The Gympass study also discovered that many American workers have largely abandoned organized fitness routines and gym visits. 60% report feeling too mentally and physically drained after work to perform any exercises, such as the trending “cozy cardio,” or participate in sports.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy Americans exercise at least twenty minutes of exercise every day. However, only an estimated 28% reach that goal regularly. Here are some common reasons why fewer Americans are getting physical:
For many American workers, the physical and mental demands of their jobs or family obligations are so draining that the thought of additional exercise can be overwhelming. While participation in a company-sponsored wellness program or a personal exercise regimen may start as a priority, maintaining long-term interest is challenging for professional trainers and their clients.
Mike Julom, founder of This Is Why I’m Fit, knows how to address this issue. “To keep clients dedicated, it’s crucial to set realistic goals. This involves guiding them toward sustainable, long-term achievements. I like to break down larger objectives into smaller, more manageable milestones, which can provide a consistent sense of accomplishment and in turn, keep motivation levels high.”
“Another key aspect is variety,” Julom continues. “It’s not just about avoiding boredom; it’s about ensuring that clients are getting a well-rounded fitness experience, targeting different muscle groups, and promoting overall functional fitness. Regularly introducing new exercises and routines keeps things fresh and ensures clients are getting the most comprehensive training possible.”
Sports and Exercise Programs Are Risky
Another reason many people lose interest in exercise is the risk of injury. Participating in contact sports, for example, offers participants a way to release tension and improve conditioning, but it can also lead to debilitating injuries if an accident occurs. Activities such as weight training can also take a toll on the body. Some people choose to stop these riskier forms of exercise rather than take a chance on serious injury.
However, health risks are associated with abruptly ending an exercise regimen, especially for older participants.
Julom explains, “First off, cardiovascular health can take a hit. Regular exercise keeps the heart strong and blood flowing smoothly. Without it, there’s a potential increase in the risk of heart-related issues. Muscle loss is another concern. When you’re not challenging your muscles like you used to, they can start to weaken and shrink. This not only affects strength but also metabolism, as muscle tissue burns more calories than fat.
“Another subtle change is in the body’s insulin sensitivity. Regular exercise helps the body use insulin more effectively, which is crucial for blood sugar regulation. Without consistent physical activity, some individuals might find their blood sugar levels harder to manage.”
Workout Routines Become Workout Ruts
Repetition often leads to boredom, but exercise routines such as aerobics and weight training rely on consistency and repetition to be effective. The lack of variety or modulation in an exercise routine can affect motivation and interest, creating a challenge for personal trainers and clients alike.
Alexa Duckworth-Briggs, a certified running coach at UK-based We Run, points out,” One significant factor contributing to the waning interest in exercise regimens is the lack of modulation in workout intensity. Many people enter into fitness programs with the perception that ‘more is better’ and that each workout session has to be strenuous to be effective.
“While a challenging workout can indeed be satisfying, pushing too hard, too frequently can lead to both physical and psychological burnout. This ‘all or nothing’ mindset can quickly make exercise feel like a chore rather than an enjoyable and sustainable activity.”
“From a health perspective, constantly pushing oneself to the limit without adequate rest or lower-intensity sessions increases the risk of injuries or ‘niggles,’” Duckworth-Briggs adds. “This can be detrimental in two ways. First, the injury itself can be a barrier to further exercise, breaking the habit and routine that the individual has built up. Second, the fear of future injury can also serve as a psychological deterrent, causing people to disengage from exercise programs altogether.”
Gyms Are Too Expensive/Inconvenient/Intimidating
Even if interest in a wellness plan or personal training is high, the costs associated with those goals can be even higher. Gym membership fees can be prohibitively expensive, and the closest facility requires a lengthy commute.
The gym’s atmosphere could also be intimidating for members not in peak physical condition. The fear of ridicule from other members or staff is another reason why many people have canceled gym memberships or stopped participating in organized programs.
Michele Paiva, a yoga studio owner and Finance Therapist at The Finance Therapist, offers this suggestion, “I feel that professional trainers need first to meet people where they are; meaning, often trainers have an idea of what they think a client wants or what they want for the client, but sometimes the client has other ideas.”
“When someone quits their workout, they often struggle with a bit of depression. They had high hopes, and now they feel deflated. They may have an injury that they don’t want to tell you about, or maybe they feel that you don’t ‘get’ them,” Paiva adds.
“Maybe they have financial struggles. The idea here is to problem-solve for them. If it is financial, understand that this is a huge source of shame for most people. Many people connect their assets or available income to their self-value. Show them that this isn’t the case. Offer payment plans or a discount if that is the case.”
Although interest in wellness programs may be waning among American workers, the health benefits of exercise remain. Physicians and other professionals still recommend some form of cardiovascular exercise to maintain ideal health.