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Exercising the mouse: Boom in online fitness searches

The analysis of online engagement in the fitness industry involved using SEMrush to study website traffic.

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Former world champion gymnast Sui Lu teaches a basic fitness class at a Shanghai university - Copyright AFP Jessica YANG
Former world champion gymnast Sui Lu teaches a basic fitness class at a Shanghai university - Copyright AFP Jessica YANG

One area of recent website growth has been with fitness websites. One report records a 32 percent increase in online traffic to fitness websites over the past five years (2019 to 2023, based on the fifty most popular websites). This is based on the latest Gymnearx.com study, where the results have been passed onto Digital Journal for assessment.


In terms of gender, the research finds that the distribution across fitness websites is nearly equal, with those identifying as male comprising 51.92 percent (1116.6 million visits) and those identifying as females, 48.08 percent (1034.0 million visits), indicating widespread interest in fitness among both genders.

Exploring deeper into user preferences, the study identifies the most popular content categories which are “training” with 488.0 million visits (23 percrnt). This includes many at-home fitness solutions, including e-fitness and online workout tutorials.

This is followed by “diets and supplements” (perhaps a more indirect form of fitness, with many supplements being notably dangerous) at 361.6 million visits (17 percent), and “fitness blogs” with 329.5 million visits (15 pecent).

Nearly 300 million visits (14 percent) to fitness gear-related pages and fitness centers received 250.8 million visits (12 percent), making up the fourth and fifth positions.

Online fitness forums and communities accounted for 8 percent, with 166.6 million visits, underscoring the importance of social support and shared experiences in the fitness journey.

Geographically, the U.S. leads, albeit unsurprisingly based on the size of its population, with 1274.9 million visits (54.37 percent), followed by the U.K. with 196.0 million visits (8.36 percent) and Canada with 107.1 million visits (4.57 percent). These three nations reflect the primary regions of engagement.

The analysis of online engagement in the fitness industry involved using SEMrush to study website traffic of the top 50 fitness websites over five years, categorizing content, identifying traffic sources by country, segmenting by gender, and normalizing data per capita for global comparison.

The assessment also included examining seasonal trends to identify peak interest periods. This method provided a detailed and objective overview of global fitness interests and trends.

With the most popular time of the year, coincidental with ‘New Year’ resolutions, January consistently sees spikes in traffic, peaking at a 24.39 percent growth rate.

Springtime also sees continued increases, with the month of May achieving the highest growth rate of 38.23 percent in the whole year, perhaps as individuals aim to shape up for summer.

After this, August marks a slight decline at 25.22 percent, indicating a potential cooldown as summer ends. 

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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