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When asked, 40 percent of survey respondents said they feel judged for their specific body type while publicly exercising, and another 54 percent said they attempt to exercise in secluded, seemingly judgment-free areas of health clubs.

Fear of Judgment Deters Americans from Exercising, New Planet Fitness Survey Says

When asked, 62 percent of survey participants said they have attempted to get into shape before joining a club, and another 45 percent said judgment-related fears have kept them away from fitness facilities entirely.

Nearly two-third of Americans say they must already appear fit before joining a health club, while almost half of Americans are deterred from ever entering a health club for fear of judgment, according to a new survey commissioned by Planet Fitness, Hampton, New Hampshire.

Planet Fitness recently hired research firm Kelton Global to conduct an online survey of 2,217 adult Americans. When asked, 62 percent of participants said they have attempted to get into shape before joining a club, and another 45 percent said judgment-related fears have kept them away from fitness facilities entirely.

Another 40 percent of respondents said they feel judged for their specific body type while publicly exercising, and 54 percent said they attempt to exercise in secluded, seemingly judgment-free areas of health clubs.

Additionally, the survey claimed as many as 16 million Americans were harassed or shamed at public health clubs in 2018.

“There’s no need for anyone to feel like they need to get in shape before joining a gym,” Roger Chacko, Planet Fitness' chief commercial officer, said in a media release about the survey. “At Planet Fitness, our priority is making our members feel welcome and comfortable no matter what, regardless of their size, shape or fitness level. It’s less about working out to the max every day of the week and more about feeling good about what you do at your own pace. In fact, based on new national physical activity guidelines, people can significantly improve their health just by moving. All activity counts.”

A January 2019 study published in the Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism journal supports Chacko's assessment. Researchers found that climbing stairs for just 20 seconds can measurably improve one's cardiorespiratory fitness.

Additionally, an August 2018 study published in the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine reported that Americans who associate physical education with negative memories are more likely to avoid health clubs as adults.

Conversely, Americans with a propensity to physical activity showed genetic markers that corresponded with a reduced risk of depression, according to another recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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