Young woman with pony-tail runs in a city park.

Strava’s Global Survey Shows Gen Z Has a Unique Approach to Fitness

Strava, a major online community for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, has just released its Year In Sport: The Trend Report, highlighting global trends in physical activity. The report highlights the ways different generations engage with exercise. It shows that Gen Z, in particular, has unique behaviors and motivations, providing valuable insights into their approach to an active lifestyle. 

The report findings come from a global survey of 6,990 active people drawn from both Strava's global community of over 120 million athletes and a random sampling of active people both on and off the Strava platform.

Gen Z's Unique Trends

Woman doing exercise
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Gen Z exhibits distinct behaviors in staying active, according to Strava’s Trend report. They also have unique motivators, barriers, and interests. 

Social Connection Drives Exercise

Group of people running together for exercise.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Across generations, athletes emphasize social connection as their top reason for exercising with over 50% motivated by friends or family. Gen Z is most motivated by social connection, with 77% of Gen Z athletes saying they feel more connected to others when seeing their friends' or family's activities on Strava.

Social Aspects of Gen Z

Young woman doing push ups at a gym.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Gen Z is 29% more likely than Millennials to work out with others, possibly driven by healthy competition. Gen Z are 31% less likely to exercise primarily for their health than their Millennial or Gen X counterparts, but they are the most likely to exercise in the pursuit of athletic performance.

Celebrities and Influencers Not Motivating

Happy workout partners give eachother high five.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Surprisingly, celebrities and influencers rank low as motivators for all generations, including Gen Z and Millennials, with social connections taking precedence.

Top Barriers to Keeping a Consistent Exercise Routine

Close up shot of runner's shoes.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Work demands emerge as a top barrier for over two-thirds of athletes across generations. Even so, a busy work life didn't stop Gen Z from reaching their fitness goals. Though 39% of Gen Z athletes started a new job and 30% relocated in 2023 they were 32% more likely than other generations to say they're fitter than last year.

Gen Z's Digital World Influence

Group of young people running outdoors.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Chief Business Officer at Strava, Zipporah Allen, highlights Gen Z's values shaped by an increasingly digital world. “We know that Gen Z behaviors reflect their values and the influence of living in an increasingly digital world, which, for this group, means they are ultimately centered around activism, community, and connection,” said Allen. 

Allen said that Gen Z led the way when it came to community building on Strava over the past year, creating clubs and participating in sports like running that they could do with others. 

Gender Differences in Safety and Household Responsibilities

Man and woman riding bicycles.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Men on Strava are 13% more likely to cite household responsibilities as a barrier, while women are 9% more likely to mention a lack of safe places to exercise.

Climate Change is Impacting Our Exercise Habits

Smokey Sky over Vancouver from wildfires. Woman standing on a beach in Stanley Park at sunset surrounded by smoke and haze
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Climate change affects exercise habits, with 75% reporting extreme heat and 27% poor air quality impacting exercise plans on Strava in 2023.

Playlists Are Trusted But Repetitive Workout Partners

Young woman exercising with headphones connected to armband holding her phone.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Putting on a playlist remains a favorite way to push through a workout, but the music may lack variety. 43% of Gen X athletes admit to listening to the same workout music for years.

Pets Get Us Out The Door

Woman running on beach with dog.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Having a dog to take on walks might be just the thing to get you moving. 76% of Strava athletes with pets credit their furry companions for motivating them to exercise. Exercising with pets is helpful and a lot more fun.

Getting Outside is Positive for the Mind and Body

Woman running on a pathway through trees looking happy.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Research shows that exercising outdoors is beneficial to our physical and mental well-being. Taking up an outdoor hobby can be a great way to have fun and stay healthy.

For a comprehensive look at the trends and the most popular places to hike, bike, and run globally, explore the full Year In Sport Trend Report at Strava.

10 More Practical Ways to Boost Happiness

Happy young people jump in tha air next to the ocean at sunset.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Small actions can have a big impact on your overall sense of well-being. Here are 10 practical steps for boosting happiness you can make part of your routines.

Author: Alissa Zorn

Title: Trauma-Informed Coach

Expertise: childhood emotional neglect, perfectionism, parenting, journaling, comics, doodling, coaching

Alissa Zorn is the founder of She's a trauma-informed coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa has been featured on the Good Men Project, Wealth of Geeks, Motherly, and more.