EMICITY RESEARCH FINDS 86 PER CENT OF CALIFORNIANS REPORT NEGATIVE HEALTH IMPACT OF GYM CLOSURES
Also cites negative changes in mental health, weight, sleep, diet, and stress
TROY, MICHIGAN. OCTOBER 16, 2020 – Emicity Research today released the results of their California Exercise and Wellness Report revealing the significant impact the seven months of shutdown in California have had on healthy, fitness-oriented Californians, including the adverse effects of the forced closures of health clubs and gyms throughout the state.
Emicity Research found that 86 per cent of health and fitness-oriented Californians report at least one negative health change since the closure of their gyms. In fact, 60 per cent reported their overall physical health has changed for the worse. Of the 2,400 independent survey respondents, 54 per cent reported negative impacts of the closure on their mental health and wellbeing.
“Substantial research covered the health consequences of COVID-19 among at-risk populations. However, little research examined the impact of COVID on the health-maintaining behaviors of people who were fit and healthy at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Karl Schmidt, President of Emicity Research. “In pursuit of this knowledge, we sought to examine how the COVID pandemic has changed the exercise and fitness behaviors of people who regularly engaged in exercise prior to the pandemic and since California is the fittest state in the country, we went straight to the source.” he finished.
The vast majority of fitness-oriented Californians can identify negative health outcomes from this decline, including negative changes in overall health (both physical and mental), sleep habits, weight, eating habits, and stress levels. The study found two primary reasons for this decline during the past seven months – the lack of access to proper equipment and secondly, the difficulty in self-motivating to exercise at home.
It also demonstrated a stark socioeconomic concern of these closures. Less affluent Californians – those with household incomes under $75,000 – were significantly more likely than those with higher incomes to state that they do not have any place to exercise in their home (42% vs. 32%) or outdoors (26% vs. 14%). “Healthcare inequity continues to be highlighted during this pandemic”, said Kristopher Gauthier, Project Director at Emicity. “Most people rely on their health club or gym for a safe place to exercise and this has been denied to Californians since March and sadly it is lower income households that are being more severely impacted”
While a lack of space and access to proper equipment is one issue, the survey found that the COVID-related shutdowns have led to nearly a third of fitness-oriented Californians completely abandoning their exercise and fitness regimens altogether suggesting the motivation to work out alone, even for fitness-oriented individuals, is a big obstacle.
In fact, pre-COVID 100 per cent of the respondents exercised regularly and during lockdown only 69 per cent have regularly exercised. To make matters worse, the cessation of regular exercise is concentrated to groups who are at greater risk of negative COVID outcomes – Californians with underlying health problems and less affluent people with fewer resources.
Despite popular narrative on fitness centers becoming obsolete, 9 out of 10 respondents plan to return to their gyms when they reopen. Plus, nearly half have no concerns about returning to their gyms currently during the pandemic so long as concrete measures are put in place to ensure the safety of guests and workers.
Since regular exercise and fitness may help to mitigate severe COVID complications, these declines in fitness and health may increase the number of people at risk for severe COVID reactions – potentially exacerbating the public health crisis as the outbreak progresses. “It is alarming to see such a big mental and physical decline in health and fitness-oriented Californians”, said Karl Schmidt. “We hope this research will help to elevate the importance of exercise in ensuring the long-term health of Californians.”
Click here for the link to the full research report.
Emicity is a full-service market research and consultancy located in Troy, Michigan. We proudly serve a national roster of clients across many sectors, including goods, services, non-profits, government, business-to-business, and internal organizations. Our staff has a deep, broad base of education and experience–and many of us have client- and agency-side experience. As a result, our work stays grounded in the financial and organizational realities that need to be considered when conducting a research initiative. And our focus is always on drawing conclusions and making recommendations that are insightful and actionable. It’s a formula that has sustained us and allowed us to prosper since 1995.