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Taking charge of one’s health and exercising are among the top contributors to improving overall wellness, according to the majority (67 percent) of people who responded to a recent survey. Many respondents (51 percent) felt their health was better in 2022 compared to 2021 after paying more attention to those factors.

The poll, conducted by Life Time, interviewed more than 1,000 people across the U.S. about their health, exercise habits, workouts, and other wellness-related considerations. Among the notable findings: Building muscle surpassed weight loss as the primary focus for the year ahead — an increase of 10 percent from last year’s survey and a striking departure from the years and years of “losing weight” topping most New Year’s resolution lists.

“The benefits of building and maintaining muscle go far beyond defined arms, abs, and legs,” says Anika Christ, RD, CPT, senior director of fitness and nutrition for Life Time. “In fact, it’s one of the most important aspects of long-term health and longevity, so this finding is music to my ears. More often than not, people get fixated on dropping pounds as their priority when the reality is building strength leads to weight loss, the ability to do more in our daily tasks, an improved mental state, and so much more.”

Learn more: “7 Body and Mind Benefits of Building Muscle

After building muscle, respondents highlighted the following as their top wellness goals in 2023:

  • Weight loss (30 percent)
  • Moving more (14.6 percent)
  • Eating better (12.9 percent)
  • Improving mental health (10.5 percent)

“It should come as no surprise that our personal health is our best defense in virtually every aspect of our lives,” says Christ. “Everything from reducing the severity of viral infections and many other diseases to boosting our mental health and longevity can be improved with movement, exercise, and good nutrition. At Life Time, we have all the tools to help people no matter where they are on their journey, and it can start with just one positive action.”

Other insights from the survey include:

  • 4 percent said Pilates is the workout they’d like to try most in the year ahead.
  • 31 percent said they learn new exercises by watching what others do at their health club.
  • 52 percent said their workouts are an equal mix of cardio and strength training.
  • 51 percent said they get an average of 5,000 to 10,000 daily steps.
  • Nearly 60 percent of respondents said sporting new workout gear or feeling confident in what they wear to work out makes a difference.
  • Responses were split on the style of music that’s listened to while working out: 35.9 percent listen to old school music like Metallica, Eminem, and Salt-N-Pepa; 36.3 percent prefer top 40 hits from Lizzo, Drake, and Taylor Swift; 16 percent opt for podcasts; and 13 percent favor country music.

And not surprisingly, 81 percent of respondents noted spring and summer as the times of year they feel they’re in the best shape. Christ adds, “I get it — between colder temperatures and less daylight, we’re not as inspired to exercise. But the benefits are too great to skip it and now is the perfect time to get going. We’re gearing up for our first 60day Challenge of the year on January 28 to support those with a desire for change but who could use some motivation, accountability, and guidance toward results in order to start the year off well.”

For those looking to focus on strength training and building muscle, Life Time has several programs to help you reach your goals whether you prefer to work with a Dynamic Personal Trainer, participate in Alpha signature training classes, attend group classes such as Barbell Strength or Upper RX, or start a digital fitness program like 6-Week Shred.

Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a senior writer and content editor at Life Time.

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