Healthcare

U.S. Adults Who Exercise are Sweating it Out Solo

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The Gist: U.S. adults of all generations prefer to exercise alone. Across generations, these solo-exercisers are more likely to consider themselves introverted in social settings. However, it’s worth noting a significant portion of Millennials who sweat it out solo, far surpassing Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers, still think of themselves as extroverted.


Exercise. Love it or hate it, most science seems to agree that some level of exercise is important to maintaining health for the long-term. These days, even if it feels like a drag, there are a variety of different ways to get in your sweat, depending on what you prefer. But what do U.S. adults prefer, when they’re looking to get moving and stay fit? We started from the top, asking our responders how they prefer to work out. 

What we found is that almost half of U.S. adults—47% to be exact—prefer to work out alone. Coming in after that is 35% of adults who rarely or never work out. Only 12% like to have an exercise buddy, while personal training and group fitness classes are the least preferable—both with just 3%. With numbers like these, it’s a wonder boutique studios and fitness centers are able to keep their doors open. Nevertheless, they persist.

To get a better idea of who is working out alone, let’s start with a look into age. Moving forward we’ve rebased the results to exclude those who rarely or never exercise.

Turns out, adults of every generation are interested in solo exercise. Though, when it comes to working out with a friend, 50% of responders are Millennials, while 48% of those who prefer group fitness classes are from Generation X. As for those who rarely or never work out, 45% are Baby Boomers. So although most adults agree that exercising should be an individual affair, there are clear preferences in the other categories that strongly correspond to age.

That said, across generations, we found that those who work out alone also tend to work out the most, indicating that they get moving several times a week. This makes sense since 21st-century adults have busy schedules that may not align with meeting up with friends, a personal trainer, or making it to a class. For many, exercising alone may just be the most practical choice.

But who exactly is choosing to exercise alone? One way to find out is to see how members of this group describe themselves. We’ll keep differentiating by generation, to keep things precise. Here are the overall results for all U.S. adults:

Overall, adults who consider themselves quieter prefer to work out alone. Millennials, Gen X-ers, and Baby Boomers who work out alone consider themselves quieter, but, it’s worth mentioning a large portion of our solo Millennial exercisers still consider themselves more talkative. 

Are Millennials possibly the most misunderstood generation? Maybe. What we know for sure is that they certainly march to the beat of their own drum when it’s time to break a sweat. And while the reasons for the solo sweat may differ according to age, it’s clear that exercising alone is not going away any time soon.

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