It seems many Americans are taking a proactive approach to their health and wellness as new research from Mintel reveals that nearly half (45 percent) of exercisers say that they exercise to prevent future health problems, including two in five (39 percent) who exercise to reduce stress. Concerns about short- and long-term health are a motivating factor for the majority of Americans given that over two thirds (64 percent) of exercisers say that improving overall health is their biggest motivation to work out.

Future physical well-being aside, American exercisers are also interested in aesthetics as looking better (44 percent), toning muscles (39 percent) and losing weight (36 percent) rank among the top reasons for exercising. What’s more, seeing improvements in body composition (46 percent) and fitness (39 percent) are sources of motivation for consumers to keep up their exercise regimens.

Gyms can focus on those features in advertising to win over new members. Targeting unhappy gym members could “work out” for them! The most recent AudienceSCAN survey found 6.4% of Americans would like to switch to a different gym/health club this year!

Wearable fitness trackers appear to be a motivating factor as more than one fifth (22 percent) of US exercisers say tracking their workouts/fitness inspires them to exercise. Indeed, more than one quarter (26 percent) of exercisers say that although they don’t currently use a wearable fitness tracker, they plan to use one in the future, and nearly one third (31 percent) say that they like to buy the newest fitness gadgets.

“Improving one’s health is the most common motivation for Americans to work out, with specific focus on future health and wellness. Our research reveals that U.S. exercisers are inspired to work up a sweat to improve energy levels, mood and quality of sleep, highlighting that an emphasis on the overall health benefits of exercise may be a more impactful key message among marketers in the fitness industry,” said Dana Macke, Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst at Mintel.

According to AudienceSCAN data, 27% of Potential Gym Switchers are using fitness trackers (like FitBit, Nike FuelBand, Garmin, Jawbone UP, Mio). And another 18% want to buy fitness-tracking bands, watches or other wearables this year. Also, 14% said they plan to buy smartwatches (like Apple Watch, Peeble, etc.) this year.

“While goals such as improvement in overall health can be harder to quantify, fitness trackers can help measure a wider variety of goals, including number of steps, hours of sleep and minutes of activity. Even still, despite the popularity of wearable fitness trackers, exercisers are more likely to feel motivated when they run faster or feel stronger.”

It seems the best exercise in life is free, as Mintel research reveals that nearly seven in ten (68 percent) U.S. exercisers walk as part, or all, of their fitness routine. Other top activities to stay in shape are also easy on the wallet, including running (30 percent) and bodyweight exercises (30 percent), such as sit-ups or pushups.

AudienceSCAN research reported Potential Gym Switchers also like crossfit training (13%) and boxing (13%). Reach out to them about these activities with sponsored search ads – 45.4% took action after seeing these in the past month!

Once considered niche fitness activities, yoga and Pilates have hit the mainstream with almost one in five (19 percent) exercisers in the US including these methods in their fitness regimen. Cardio machines are nearly as popular, with cycling/spinning (19 percent) and elliptical/stair/rowing machines (18 percent) used regularly.

Owning fitness equipment for use at home (48 percent) is even more popular than a membership to a traditional gym (35 percent), among those who exercise at least monthly. Indeed, less than half (49 percent) of U.S. exercisers believe a gym membership is money well spent, while just two in five (43 percent) agree that fitness classes are worth the cost. What’s more, nearly one third (32 percent) of U.S. exercisers say that they use free workout videos, while only 15 percent use a paid fitness video subscription as part of their routine.

Fitness centers can focus on all the extra services they provide that Potential Gym Switchers cannot get at home. Things like personal services could sway them. AudienceSCAN research revealed 20% of Potential Gym Switchers intend to pay for personal trainers and 17% will pay for diet/weight loss counseling.

“The three most popular forms of exercise have one important factor in common – they are all free. Cost is a barrier for the new wave of fitness trends, as only a small segment of exercisers have the money or desire to participate in boutique spin, barre or interval classes. Ownership of home gym equipment also highlights some of the constraints exercisers face, such as lack of time, money and motivation. As fitness brands find new ways for exercisers to put their home gym equipment to use, there’s room for growth in the area of paid fitness video services that bring workout classes to the living room,” concluded Macke.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.