Are Millennials Fitness Freaks? (Statistics, Facts, & Trends)

Millennials are always in the limelight, but never for a good reason. We’re always copping the blame for absurd things, like destroying casual dining, not buying enough diamonds, skipping out on golf, and — worst of all — leaving cereal in the 2000s! Business Insider even dedicated an entire article to discussing the 19 industries
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Millennials are always in the limelight, but never for a good reason.

We’re always copping the blame for absurd things, like destroying casual dining, not buying enough diamonds, skipping out on golf, and — worst of all — leaving cereal in the 2000s!

Business Insider even dedicated an entire article to discussing the 19 industries and products we’re single-handedly ruining as a generation.

But for us Millennials (also known as Gen Y), we finally have something to brag about:

We’re fitness freaks!

Step aside Boomers, Gen Z, and Gen X. Here are 16 statistics, facts, and trends that prove once and for all that Millennials are the healthiest and fittest generation.

How Healthy Are Millennials?

  • Four in five American Millennials consider their health either ‘good’ or ‘excellent.’
  • Millennials notoriously struggle with mental health at higher rates than Baby Boomers; the ‘good’ and ‘excellent responses’ were 56% and 70%, respectively.
  • Some 44% of Gen Y worry that their unhealthy habits might come back to bite them.
  • Millennials splurge over $7 billion a year on fitness club memberships.

Are Millennials As Healthy As They Think They Are?

When TIME magazine publishes a critical article titled “Millennials Love Wellness. But They’re Not as Healthy as People Think, Report Says,” the classic response is likely a muttered “uh-oh.”

Are Millennials the fittest generation or not?

In regards to physical fitness, the answer is almost certainly ‘yes.’ But when you look at the not-so-pretty statistics, Gen Y is waging a few public health battles, notably:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperactivity
  • High cholesterol
  • Tobacco use
  • Anxiety

But this doesn’t paint a complete picture, especially when you realize that these issues can stem from unstable social climates, high health care rates, and more confidence about mental health.

And this is why it’s important to note that exercise is a great way for any generation to minimize stress and anxiety.

Even more disturbing is that older Millennials are now more likely to develop obesity-related cancers than those aged 50 and over.

TIME’s mildly controversial headline is right: Gen Y isn’t flawless in the health arena, though we certainly spend billions on gym memberships and are aware that our actions have consequences.

No, Millennials aren’t as healthy as they think they are!

How Much Do Millennials Spend on Fitness?

Millennials may shell out some $7 billion a year on health club memberships, but that’s only scraping the surface of the generation’s overall fitness spending.

The average Millennial takes on the following monthly expenditures:

  • Health supplements: $56
  • Workout clothing: $35
  • Gym membership: $33
  • Healthy meal plans: $17
  • Trainers: $14

That works out to about $153 a month (or $1,836 a year) on fitness alone. But when you factor in that Millennials also choose pricier boutiques over discount gyms like PF, the price soars higher.

If the youngest Millennial continued this spending until age 65, they’d be $75,276 in the hole, which is equivalent to 1.6x the average Millennial salary.

Millennials Fitness Statistics

  • Gen Y is the fittest generation, with 76% participating in exercise at least once a week; Generation X trailed at 70%, and Baby Boomers stood strong at 64%.
  • Millennials are more goal-motivated in the gym and kitchen, with 31% exercising to reach their fitness goals (5% higher than the rest of the population).
  • About 36% of consistent Millennial fitness buffs consider investing in a gym membership versus 20% of enthusiasts from other generations.
  • Fitness classes like pilates and yoga lure in 45% of Millennials, attracting an 18% larger attendance than those aged 55 and older.
  • Budget gyms (<$20/month) like Planet Fitness saw a 70% increase in membership in only the year 2015.
  • Millennials are in part responsible for the rise of boutique fitness studios like Pure Barre and SoulCycle, with memberships soaring a startling 70% between 2012 and 2015.
  • Boutique studios are a relatively new breed, but 63% of members admit to enjoying the community aspect while 47% appreciate the atmosphere.

Millennials Are Fitness Freaks, But Why?

This unusually fitness-oriented, health-conscious generation has an undying workout obsession, with the average Gen Y’er committing $112,000 to fitness throughout their lifespan.

But Millennials aren’t salivating at the thought of a sweat-drenched tank top, pounding heart rate, or pure exhaustion; it’s the experience and health benefits that drags them to the fitness club.

It also comes down to a few things, like the facts that:

  • Millennials are loyal trend-seekers and followers. If CrossFit or SoulCycle are style ‘hot,’ you can count on Millennials to attend every class.
  • The generation has a reputation for being goal-oriented. Running a marathon, finishing a Tough Mudder, or benching a new PR all come as a badge of honor.
  • Millennials crave socialization. The supportive group atmosphere, attending classes with friends and motivating one another encourage the younger crowd.
  • There’s no shortage of fitness influencers. The MyPod Generation also came of age as platforms like Instagram rose in popularity, a hub for health and fitness advice.
  • The crowd loves to research. Millennials will journey to the end of the earth reading reviews before buying something; there’s no doubt they’re researching fitness benefits.
  • Millennials like an improvement. Whether it’s recycling more, social justice, decreasing poverty, or even building upon their own health, Millennials are the first to the scene!

Maybe Millennials will cancel their gym memberships when a new fad enters the airwaves. But perhaps this generation simply values their health, wellness, and fitness.

Millennials On a Budget

While some Millennials splurge on fancy boutique group fitness classes or CrossFit gyms, others crave fitness in any sense: a Planet Fitness membership or even home workouts.

If you’re on a budget but want to become a ‘Millennial fitness freak,’ you have a few options.

Youfit, Planet Fitness, and Crunch Fitness are the best gyms for penny pinchers, with base memberships starting at just $10/month.

However, there are two other alternatives.

The average home gym will cost about $2,000 to stock full of equipment. Compared to the Planet Fitness flat rate, a home gym may take 17 years to pay off (or even less if multiple people use it).

You can also turn to free or low-cost exercise apps, like Nike, Sworkit, Strava, or JeFit.

Millennials aren’t the wealthiest generation. Therefore, not having to choose between wealthy or fit is a choice we don’t have to make.

Millennials Health and Wellness Trends

  • Millennials (with children) deserve some credit for feeding the restaurant industry’s growth, visiting eateries 5% more often in 2018 than 2017.
  • A slim portion of Gen X and Baby Boomers eat on the go (26% and 19%, respectively); forty percent of Millennials confess the same, and 50% seek a good deal on food.
  • The average Millennial began drinking coffee at 15 years old.
  • Gen Y revived a rapidly declining coffee industry, too, now responsible for 44% of the U.S. coffee demand.
  • Millennials are driving frozen food sales to their first increase in five years, shelling out 9% more per trip on frozen delicacies.

The Unique Eating Habits of Millennials

On-the-go meals (or snacks), “good deals,” and frozen food all have a few things in common: low costs, limited time, and pure convenience.

These facts might help to explain why:

Cooking a nutritious, homemade meal can take an hour or more and costs $5+ a pop (unless you’re adding fancier ingredients or cooking in bulk).

Meanwhile, snacking on a granola bar at your desk to calm a growling stomach or popping a frozen macaroni in the microwave for three minutes after work is cheaper and takes less time.

Millennials make do with what they have. But before we break out the pitchforks, look at the positive: at least it’s not a 550-calorie Big Mac with 1,010mg sodium and 30g fat.

Compare that with health and fitness statistics for Ireland where a Big Mac is on par with 70% of the traditional diet.

Millennials & Coffee

Nothing says Millennial quite like squeezing in a caffeine-refueling pit stop at the Dunkin drive-thru on the journey to work.

In fact, the java obsession costs the average 25-34 year old $2,008 a year (or $5.50 a day, if you’re a habitual coffee drinker).

But it’s not black, break room-style, machine-ready coffee that’s coaxing the Millennials in.

It’s everything from flavorful recipes (caramel, chocolate, etc.) and a makeshift on-the-go breakfast to being ‘trendy’ and needing a healthier caffeine jolt than Monster or RedBull can offer.

Yet, it’s not that innocent!

Millennials are also the most stressed generation on American soil. If you work a grueling 50-hour workweek, toss and turn at night, and do it all over again at 9 a.m., coffee is a godsend!

It’s safe to say that we’re not simply coffee aficionados.

Why Millennials Love Eating at Restaurants

A 2017 Harris Poll zeroed on how Millennials are driving (no, not destroying) the restaurant industry. Among the generation’s highest-rated food chains are:

  • Five Guys
  • The Cheesecake Factory
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Starbucks Coffee Shop
  • Moe’s Southwest Grill
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop
  • Papa John’s Pizza
  • Subway

At first glance, with the exception of some Subway sandwiches, these restaurants don’t exactly scream nutritious or healthy (sodium, sugar, cholesterol galore).

But the poll also dug a little deeper to answer one nagging question, especially after restaurants like In-N-Out Burger and Chipotle lost their spots on the podium in recent years: why?

Millennials don’t have the time, patience, or money for an hour-long, luxury sit-down meal that costs $30 per person.

But if the restaurant has a convenient mobile app, serves food quickly, has regular low prices, offers healthier menu items, and is generally nearby, Millennials will flock to it.

It’s not that deep!

Millennials – The Wellness Generation

Whether you dub us Millennials, Gen Y, Gen Why?, the MyPod Generation, or even Baby Boomlets (no thanks!), you have to admit:

If we’re going to brainstorm ridiculous names, then the Wellness Generation is as good as any.

Now, ‘being a statistic’ isn’t normally a badge of honor. But if you didn’t connect with a lot of these stats and trends, it’s not too late to earn that ‘fitness freak’ title:

  • Join a gym (clubs like Planet Fitness start at $10/month)
  • Find alternative exercise methods (resistance bands, fitness video games, calisthenics)
  • Make healthier choices at restaurants
  • Choose fresh food over frozen or processed options
  • Drink coffee in moderation

It’s all about dipping your toe into the shallow end instead of belly-flopping into it.

Start with one workout, one day of healthy eating, and one day of no coffee per week. After your mind and body adjust, ramp up your efforts (even if only slightly).

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