Warming Up

How’s That $3 Trillion Fitness Industry Working for You?

The $3.4 trillion fitness industry has prospered because it has come to represent an identity for the people who participate. In an interview with Marketplace, Bloomberg’s Jason Kelly explains:

What is so interesting about it, I think, is this idea that it has moved from activity to lifestyle. Once it moves to a lifestyle, then you’re not just talking about buying a pair of shoes and buying a pair of shorts, you’re talking about what you eat, where you go on vacation, who you hang out with. It’s just this all-consuming thing that, once you start to live this, a lot of your disposable income goes towards that. And that’s when it becomes an economy.

And if it’s fueling trillions of dollars in economic activity, maybe that’s more than just good enough. Daily Beast reporter Patrick Mustain takes a more skeptical view:

The growth of the fitness industry gives society an excuse to ignore some serious public health issues.

The current framing goes like this: We have serious and growing problems with chronic disease associated with poor diet and physical activity. People are eating too much and moving too little. Therefore, people should eat less, and move more. People should make better choices. Problem solved!

Perhaps Mustain is a bit harsh. Pursuing fitness on any level is a step in the right direction. But it’s pretty clear that trillions of dollars spent on a fitness lifestyle is not solving the problem by itself. Although engagement in physical activity is growing, other statistics are not so comforting. Most Americans are still not physically active.

Routine fitness might be more important than fitness routines.

Click here for more from Marketplace and Jason Kelly. Click here for more from Patrick Mustain.

Warming Up, photograph © SaMoBiker / flickr

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May 7, 2016