Survey: Americans and Europeans Are Flunking Fitness

How much do you think you know?


Sad but true – polls show that people are working out more than ever before but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing.

Nautilus conducted a Fitness IQ survey, which included the U.S. and Western Europe. It turns out that both sides of the Atlantic are getting an F grade when it comes to basic health, nutrition and fitness knowledge. Americans scored an average of 42 percent and Europeans 39 percent.

“Myths have been around forever,” Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and certified sports nutritionist, who was part of the team analyzing the results, says. “The Internet is full of bad information and people are just not going to the right places.” This is why he thinks they are doing so poorly.

“It’s also human nature,” he adds. “Nobody wants to know the truth, everybody wants a quick fix.”

Holland expected these numbers. “[They are] a little bit on the lower side,” he says. “I was hoping the public had learned more, given where we are with obesity.”

Participants significantly underestimated the difference in calories burned when sitting versus standing. “A whopping 92 percent of Americans and 90 percent Europeans did not know that standing burns 30 percent more calories than sitting,” according to the results.

Also, 61 percent of Europeans and 55 percent of Americans did not know the recommended daily calories intake. This was shocking, considering it’s written on every nutrition label. (It’s 2,000 calories for the average healthy person.) If they know how many calories they should be eating, “then what does it matter what’s on the label?” he adds.

Another shocking result, but on the positive side, Holland says, is that people knew that walking a mile didn’t burn as many calories as running. “I think they guessed,” he adds, but it’s still a good sign.

Do you know any bodyweight exercises? If not, you’re not alone – 77 percent of Americans and 64 percent of Europeans could not define them. (It’s a workout without machinery or extra equipment.) “We have a lot of work to do,” Holland says, to educate the average gym-goer.

Over 70 percent of Europeans could not identify functional fitness exercise but 59 percent of Americans did. The terms may sound confusing but it really means doing exercises that improve the overall balance and coordination of your body. TRX programs are a good example of functional training. It focuses on strength exercises that increase endurance and flexibility so your body has a wide range of motion. All of this helps you perform everyday activities easier.

What also surprised Holland was that many people believed if they stopped working out, muscle will turn into fat. There is no danger of that happening. “Muscle cells and fat cells are two separate things,” he adds.

Europe is famous for its strict food regulations. People across the Atlantic are generally known to be more health-conscious, which is why it was startling to see that they were less educated than Americans. “[American and Europeans] were pretty close in most areas,” Holland clarifies. “There was not too much variation which is also a good sign.”

As many as 2,600 randomly selected people from eight countries took the 19-question quiz.

Test out your own health and fitness knowledge by taking a modified Fitness IQ quiz on Bowflex Insider.

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