Cost of Exercise Per Year

This is probably one of the weakest sources of data in the history of the website, however I think it served its purpose and I wanted to share. The data was made up by chatGPT, it was not collected in the real world. This seems bad, but it could also be advantageous. If I collect prices across the nation(or even between stores in the same city), differences in labor/cost of living prices can make two identical activites cost different prices. This is some ultra aggregate of data, and as long as we can learn from it, its good right?

My 5 second hypothesis was that running is the cheapest. I was wrong.



We can somewhat generalize different categories of costs.


These are home workouts that you can literally do naked. The most I can imagine paying is for internet so you can follow along to a video or buying some supplementary equipment like bands or a yoga mat. However, the moment you buy anything, you have plenty of clothed non-home options.

Regarding my hypothesis, I had forgotten shoe costs.

Less than $200/yr

These mostly involve buying a few pieces of equipment once. Buying a football/soccer ball, shoes, light safety equipment. These mainline sports can give you opportunities to play in public and meet new people, which could have its own positive value.

The biggest bummer here is that shoes do not seem to last. My shoes go from “New Running Shoes” to “Worn Weight Lifting Shoes” to “Grass Cutting Shoes” over their lifetime. I suppose I’m not counting these later lifespans. I personally don’t notice the difference between cheap($60) and expensive shoes($100+) unless there is something weird about the expensive shoes.

Less than $500/yr

These are your sports that require someone to be paid and real estate to be occupied. There are some exceptions like buying a gym membership to do weight lifting or buying an elliptical.

Greater than $1000/yr

These appear to be classes that require an instructor that are a bit more hands on or require equipment/expertise.


Your exercise and social goals may dictate these. However you may find that you can make the choice between a yoga class and a yoga video. You will lose out on potential social benefits.

I have two personal goals, have good cardio and grow muscle. Cardio is low cost between running, $50 stationary bike, hula hooping, and jump roping. To grow muscle, you require weights, the lowest cost solution for us was to buy a home gym once for $1000. The quality requirements for exercise can be more complex than a mere ‘yes this is exercise’.


Did you forget chatGPT generated this data? I did. If fake/mathmatically reasonable data bothered you, let me know. The conclusions of this study seemed reasonable, however with fake data, I worry we are missing some edge case. On the flip side, there would be no study this week if I had to collect this data myself. Email me at michaelkirk@efficiencyiseverything.com