What are the most common issues men and women struggle with when it comes to getting healthy and fit? This article explores our latest fitness survey results.
In the pursuit of helping people eat, move and live better (and because we are, admittedly, data nerds) we recently conducted an internal research survey.
We asked our audience how they feel about the current state of their health and fitness and where they need the most help.
Nearly 10,000 people took the survey. While adults of all ages answered, most respondents were between the ages of 25 and 44.
The responses showed some striking similarities. Men and women spoke up about similar challenges, frustrations, and even potential solutions for their health and fitness challenges.
In this article we’ll show you the survey results—then we’ll share strategies for overcoming the most common issues our readers face.
Maybe you’ll spot some commonalities in your own life.
If you’re anything like the people we polled…
1. You’re busier than you’ve ever been—and struggling to stay healthy and fit.
Kids. Careers. Commutes. Life can feel really demanding.
And, like it or not, you’re getting older.
Signs of aging are showing up everywhere—cracking ankles and knees, waking up sore, appointments with the doctor.
Perhaps for the first time, you’re even coming to terms with the fact that your parents won’t be around forever.
In short, this is real life.
Most men’s lives are very different from when they were younger
Most men who responded to our survey told us they have more stress, more responsibilities, and less time and energy. Their sex hormones may have peaked and started their slow decline. And lots of guys are drinking more alcohol and eating more junk food than they know they should.
Hundreds of guys polled mentioned wanting to reduce or eliminate the amount of alcohol they drink.
Interestingly, most guys know exactly what would make the biggest difference to their health: 74% said they need the most help with their nutrition and eating habits (compared to less than 30% who said they need to exercise and move more often.)
74% of guys need the most help with their nutrition and eating habits.
Women are feeling the pressure, too.
The women we surveyed are struggling with a lot of the same problems as the men.
For one thing, their hormones are shifting and their metabolisms are changing—and this brings on a whole bunch of new issues.
Many women are pregnant (or thinking about pregnancy), newly postpartum, or simply trying to figure out what’s going on with their bodies as they get older.
Add to that the stress of keeping everyone in the family happy and healthy—all while trying to stay happy and healthy themselves—and it’s easy to see why 43% of women we polled said they need the most help reducing their stress levels, whether at home or at work.
And just like the guys, hundreds of women told us they overindulge at times, using alcohol or sugar as a momentary escape.
Hundreds of women mentioned wanting to reduce or eliminate the amount of sugar they eat.
Overeating is such a big issue for women that 66% of our survey respondents feel like they need the most help overcoming their emotional eating tendencies.
66% of women need the most help overcoming emotional eating.
And probably because you’re busier than ever…
2. You’re not totally happy with how you look and feel.
Of our survey respondents, 90% of women and 92% of men wish they could be happier with their bodies and the choices they’re making on a daily basis. They want to eat healthy and exercise, but often they:
- struggle to find the time
- are unsure of the right approach
- aren’t putting their knowledge into action consistently
Over 65% of men and women surveyed feel like they knew what they should be doing to get healthy and fit… they just aren’t doing those things as consistently as they would like.
And who can blame them? Just look at all the things they’re dealing with:
(These are real quotes pulled from the thousands of responses we received.)
- “I have a lot on my plate.”
- “With these injuries…”
- “With my kids’ schedules…”
- “With a busy job…”
- “With my thyroid problem…”
- “With being very overweight…”
- “With digestive issues…”
- “With hormonal changes…”
- “With so much traveling…”
- “With these bad knees…”
- “With all that I’m dealing with right now…”
We asked, “what’s one small improvement you could make to improve your health and fitness?”. Both men and women shared ideas like:
- “Be more consistent.”
- “No more sugar.”
- “Get more sleep.”
- “Drink less alcohol.”
- “No more junk food.”
- “Get to the gym more.”
- “No more soda.”
- “Find more energy.”
- “Stretch more.”
- “Drink more water.”
- “Quit snacking.”
- “Be less stressed.”
These are great ideas. But often, they stay ideas. They’re rarely put into action. When things get busy, the good ideas are the first thing to go. And that’s usually because…
3. You know you need accountability—you just don’t have any.
Over 80% of the men and women we surveyed think that monitoring and accountability is important to getting in better shape.
However, most don’t have a person or a program to help keep them accountable.
Men: 83% don’t have anyone in their life to keep them accountable and consistent with healthy eating and exercising.
Women: 80% don’t have anyone in their life to keep them accountable and consistent with healthy eating and exercising.
So why don’t you have accountability and consistency, even when you know it’s important?
It’s probably because you’re juggling work demands and trying to take care of everyone else in your life.
You’re keeping your family together. Paying the bills. Getting the kids fed and clothed and off to school. (Maybe you’re even off to school yourself.)
In short, you’re taking care of everyone else and everything else. But when it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition, you don’t have someone in your corner helping you succeed.
72% of you agree: more information doesn’t help you get in better shape
People are predictable. Most of us believe we’ll get better results once we just learn a little more. If we read more blogs. If we follow and learn from more experts. If we listen to more podcasts.
Unfortunately, knowledge isn’t enough. And based on our survey results, it seems as if men and women know this—even if seeking out more knowledge is a common approach.
Only 28% of men and women said that more information about health, fitness, and nutrition would make them feel better about their choices.
Here’s what everyone else said they really want:
Men: 66% said they want a clear nutrition plan to follow. And 56% want to learn how to make better choices consistently.
Women: 66% said they want more coaching and guidance. And 61% want a clear nutrition plan to follow.
Follow a proven plan? Or do things on your own? The choice is yours.
For over a decade, Precision Nutrition has released hundreds of free articles and videos that share our methodology for improving your health and fitness.
We’re very proud of our work and will always continue to share our nutrition and exercise research and analysis for free, with anyone who wants it. In fact, at the bottom of this page, we’ll share some of our best articles for the 28% of people who just want more health and fitness information.
However, we recognized long ago that some people want more structure and accountability than an article can provide. They want to get in better shape and improve their health, but they’re too busy to figure it all out on their own.
That’s why we created the Precision Nutrition Personal Coaching Program. It’s a 12-month nutrition coaching program that we’ve tested with over 35,000 people.
If you want to overcome any of the common health and fitness issues we’ve covered in this article—needing a proven nutrition plan to follow, learning how to make better choices more consistently, struggling with emotional eating—then we’re here to help.
Our coaching program isn’t for everybody. But if you’re a good fit, it has the potential to be life-changing.
Unfortunately, we can only accept less than 1 percent of the people who express interest in working with us. Because of that—and because we only accept new clients twice per year—our programs have historically sold out in a matter of hours. We’re opening our next program on July 15th. If you’re interested, you can get more information about it here.
Recent graduates of the Precision Nutrition personal coaching program.
Here’s more information and articles for people who want to try getting in shape on their own
How to overcome emotional eating and drinking.
65% of women polled said they need the most help with emotional eating. And both men and women seem to struggle with snacking on junk food and sugar, and drinking too much alcohol.
These are common issues and nothing to be ashamed of.
We have a 13-step process for people who struggle with emotional eating. (Note: this article was written for women based on our research, but all of our suggestions are equally applicable to men.)
And if you feel like drinking alcohol or eating sugar is becoming more of a compulsion that’s getting harder for you to control, you may want to check out this article on food addiction.
How to make better nutrition choices.
The overwhelming majority of men and women said they need the most help with nutrition and eating better. They want a clear nutrition approach, but are unsure of what to follow. Of course, we recommend our Precision Nutrition Coaching Program—especially if you’re a busy person who wants more accountability.
But you can also get our best recommendations by reading these three articles:
How to become more accountable and consistent.
People tend to overpromise and underdeliver. Especially when it comes to their health and fitness. They tell themselves they’re going to make all these positive changes… and then they quickly burn out or fail to measure up to their standards.
If you’re struggling to stay consistent with your exercise or nutrition program, make sure to read this article:
How to reduce your stress and get better sleep.
According to our survey, 49% of men and 37% of women need the most help with improving the quantity and quality of their sleep. And 41% of men and 43% of women feel they need the most help reducing their stress levels.
That’s no surprise. As we noted earlier, these things creep up as you age. Job demands typically increase. Mortgage payments become the norm. And add a few kids to the mix for good measure.
Managing stress and getting enough sleep are as important as eating well and exercising. If you’re struggling with one or both, here are two articles for you to read:
Take the first step. Then let us take over.
For most people, getting started is the hardest thing. Figuring out what to do first. Overcoming inertia. Taking that first step into the unknown.
At Precision Nutrition, we know that all too well. In fact, through our work with clients, we’ve helped thousands of people move from “all or nothing” to “always something.”
But the first step always begins with you. If you’re ready to look, feel, and live better, we’re here to help.
In fact, our final coaching program of 2015 begins soon. To learn more about the program and to see if you’re a good fit, read this next: Personal Coaching from Precision Nutrition. And be sure to put your name on the free presale list below to save 20 percent and get the chance to register 24 hours before everyone else. (Spots in the program have historically sold out in hours.)