No matter the situation during a global pandemic, U.S. adults continue to exercise whether it be at a gym, through online fitness apps or services, or even playing sports. CivicScience data explores these different methods of exercise and how frequency, comfort, and importance can differ between income, gender, and age groups.

Surprisingly, between March and May of 2020, when gyms were closing and quarantine was beginning, the number of people exercising several times a week increased from 39% to 44%. However, after May the number of people who never exercise increased slightly, and those exercising several times a week began to decline.

With quarantine lasting much longer than some expected, home exercise equipment has become increasingly popular. Since March there has been a steady increase in new equipment owners, from 19% to 23% (July). On the other hand, those not interested in exercise equipment have been decreasing since March, from 55% to 52% (July).

Before February, and before the coronavirus pandemic, the number of people who reported they never exercised at a gym was steadily decreasing. However, and not surprisingly, after February there was a sharp increase in U.S. adults who never go to the gym from 59% to 70%, a number that has continued to increase throughout the pandemic. Surprisingly, at the peak of the pandemic in March 18% of U.S. adults were still exercising at a gym at least once a week, although they have been decreasing steadily since February.

Also unsurprisingly, U.S. adults with higher incomes exercise at a gym a higher frequency than those with lower incomes. U.S. adults with an income of $100k+ are about 49% more likely than those with an income of $50k or less to exercise at a gym at all.

More than half of U.S. adults (62%) wouldn’t be comfortable working out in a gym for at least another 6 months. However, it is intriguing that the next popular response (22%) is being comfortable working out in a gym now.

Health & Fitness

U.S. adults who have been using online fitness apps/services the same amount as usual during the coronavirus pandemic are the most likely to be comfortable returning now to work out in a gym. On the other hand, 66% percent of people using online fitness apps more than usual wouldn’t return to a gym for another 6 months.

As expected, U.S. adults who have been using online fitness apps more than usual are the most likely to exercise more frequently with 61% reporting they exercise several times a week. However, over half of those who have been using these services less are also exercising several times a week, although 32% never exercise.

It is interesting that women are more likely than men to be part of the group who report using online fitness apps more, but men and women follow health and fitness trends similarly. Women are only slightly more likely to follow these trends whereas they are significantly more likely to be using an online fitness app, something that has become the newest fitness trend.

It is not surprising that how much someone values health and fitness would relate to how closely they follow health and fitness trends. This is apparent below with the majority of U.S. adults who report they are passionate about health and fitness closely following these trends, and the majority of those uninterested in health and fitness not following these trends.

Surprisingly, the data show that higher levels of fitness importance does not signify higher levels of comfort returning to a gym.

The majority of U.S. adults report they will not be comfortable working out in gyms for another 6 or more months, no matter how much they value health and fitness activities.

Even though most U.S. adults would prefer to wait 6 or more months before returning to work out in gyms, many have been continuing to exercise throughout the coronavirus pandemic by using alternative exercise methods. Online fitness apps and other fitness trends have been on the rise while gyms have been closed, allowing people to exercise more often while remaining in the comfort of their homes.