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Does Exercise Incite Positive Thoughts about the Economy?

The positive effects that regular exercise can have on our health and stress levels are well-documented; I personally enjoy the solitary time on my elliptical each morning reading Twilight The Changing American Consumer on my Kindle. But can breaking a sweat help boost economic confidence?

According to our August Consumer survey, 35.2% of those who regularly hit the gym [or pound the pavement?] are “confident” or “very confident” in chances for a strong economy, indexing slightly above the overall average (34.0%). Among those who prefer a more sedentary lifestyle, confidence was subpar (33.3%).

Exercisers are also prone to more positive thinking regarding the employment outlook. Nearly one in five (19.5%) is calling for “fewer” layoffs over the next six months, higher than the overall average (16.9%) as well as their couch potato counterparts (15.4%). Exercisers aren’t as likely to be sweating increasing layoffs, either; about one in four (26.7%) is expecting “more” layoffs, indexing below adults in general (27.6%) as well as non-exercisers (28.1%).

But while exercisers are making more positive predictions for the economy, they are adopting more realistic, financially conservative lifestyles. This month, half (50.7%) of those who work out regularly say they have become more practical in their purchasing, 28% higher than those preferring less active lifestyles (39.4%). Focus on necessities, sticking to budgets, and spending more time with the family are priorities to a higher proportion of those tending toward toning compared to those who, well, are not.

Exercisers are also making sure that their finances are in shape as well; nearly two in five (38.8%) maintains plans to decrease overall spending in the next three months, much higher than those leaning toward lounging (28.4%). We see nearly the same disparities when comparing plans to pay down debt and increase savings:

Also noteworthy: interest in exercising began accelerating when the economy hit the skids. In August 2007, fewer than one in three (30.5%) reported that they were working out regularly, while the economy prospered with a 43.9% confidence rate. Fast forward to 2012, and more are exercising (36.5%) while confidence has dropped to 34.0%:

Is the economic downturn/exercise upturn a just coincidence? Have we been turning to exercise to help alleviate some of the macro-environmental stress brought about by the Great Recession?

Or given the information deluge we’ve experienced via the online, mobile, and social media, have we just become more aware of the benefits of building up a sweat? More motivated?

Or with the growing number of baby boomers entering retirement, is a larger proportion of the population trying to stave off aging?

Or in this economy, is going for a run simply cheaper than dinner-and-a-movie?

Maybe we’ve just become tired of asking, “Do I look fat in this?”

Check out our other blogs on the topic of health and exercise:

One in Four McDonald’s Customers Unhappy with Their Health

Two-Thirds of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Shoppers Express Health Happiness

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – AUG-12 (N = 9426, 8/1 – 8/7/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

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Two-Thirds of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Shoppers Express Health Happiness

May 16, 2012 1 comment

Is there something in that Two-Buck Chuck? New BIGinsight™ analysis reveals that Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods shoppers* are happier with their health** compared to mainstream grocery shoppers at Kroger, Publix, and the nation’s top pantry supplier – Walmart.

Totally Happy/Happy with Health

While Publix shoppers trail the likes of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s in terms of health happiness, customers at this grocer – known for its quality assortment of items ‘round the perimeter – track ahead of both Kroger and Walmart.

On the flip side, nearly a quarter (23.1%) of Walmart shoppers feels “unhappy” or “totally unhappy” with the state of their health. Kroger shoppers aren’t far behind with this sad-faced sentiment (20.5%), while far fewer (11.5%) Trader Joe’s shoppers are worried about their well-being.

Totally Unhappy/Unhappy with Health

Interestingly, shoppers with a proclivity toward natural and organic goods aren’t prone to shunning that fast food guilty pleasure. In fact, nearly half of Whole Foods’ customers (45.6%) patronize a fast food restaurant once a week or more often, higher than the overall average (39.0%) as well as – surprise! – Walmart shoppers (44.1%). Trader Joe’s (43.3%), Kroger (46.7%), and Publix (42.0%) each index above the national rate as well.

But it’s all about the choices we make though, right? While McDonald’s is the preferred fast food restaurant across all of our shopper groups [gotta love those fries], Subway – with its arguably fresher/healthier menu – indexes higher among Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s customers. In addition, these organically-minded shoppers place more importance on a quick service restaurant’s healthy menu options and food quality than average, while Walmart patrons are more apt to opt for lower pricing and a value menu.

Finally, it’s evident that Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s shoppers aren’t achieving health satisfaction without any effort. Nearly ninety percent of each of these customer groups report doing something about their health, such as watching calorie or fat intake, exercising regularly, or opting for more organic foods. Working up a sweat is key; in fact, Trader Joe’s shoppers are 50% more likely to hit the gym compared Walmart customers. More than a quarter of those bagging their groceries at the big discounter (27.5%) say they don’t do anything with regard to their health, the highest of all the groups analyzed for this report.

Exercise Regularly

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

This post was inspired by our original analysis of Fast Food customers’ health happiness: One in Four McDonald’s Customers Unhappy with Their Health.

* Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, Publix, and Walmart shoppers were analyzed for this report.  Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s “shoppers” are defined as respondents who indicated that they shop these retailers most often for Organic Products (an unaided, write-in response). Kroger, Publix, and Walmart “shoppers” are defined as respondents who indicated that they shop these retailers most often for Groceries (first or second choice), also unaided, write-in responses. Shopper groups analyzed in this report are not mutually exclusive.

** Respondents were posed with this question: On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being “Totally Unhappy,” and 5 being “Totally Happy,” how would you rate your happiness level with your Health?

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAY-12 (N = 8789, 5/2 – 5/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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