Is there an overarching term that designates people who are involved in physical fitness and therapeutic endeavors (includes athletes, physical therapy patients, gym-goers, and physical yoga practitioners)?

I think it might be exerciser, which can refer to "one who exercises" or "a machine that exercises".

Is it the repetition of the "er" sounds, or the vagueness of the designation–or both–that makes it such an awkward word?

Other terms that come to mind are anatomy, movement, and physical activist. Also this thread of "word for physical exercises" popped up.

  • 2
    Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/124665/…
    – user 66974
    Feb 9, 2021 at 20:03
  • Thanks, @user66974. That post makes me less optimistic that there's a better English word than exerciser.
    – MikeiLL
    Feb 9, 2021 at 20:10
  • 2
    As the link answer says, “gym rat” is common in the US; fitness buff is another term. These terms really don’t cover people in physical therapy, who are often not enthusiasts.
    – Xanne
    Feb 9, 2021 at 20:52
  • 1
    They are fitness buffs.
    – Drew
    Feb 9, 2021 at 23:26
  • 1
    If there was a word, " people who exercise " wouldn't have 750k hits.
    – Mazura
    Feb 10, 2021 at 5:14

2 Answers 2


Here are a couple of options. I think that they apply to most of the people in your category, with the possible exception of people in physical therapy.

My personal choice out of those 5 options would probably be gym bunny, fitness fanatic, or fitness enthusiast. They all represent people who exercise often as the sole meaning. Health nut is also good but has the side meaning of eating healthy so using it would depend on the context. Exercise buff is fine but implies that the person is muscular - which they may not be. This is not to say that exerciser doesn't work - I think that it may still be one of your best options regardless of personal preference on the sound of the word.

  • Thanks, but as per comment above, this does not apply to people who are in physical therapy do not fall into any of the above categories.
    – MikeiLL
    Feb 9, 2021 at 23:28
  • @MikeiLL I understand, which is why I said: "with the possible exception for people in physical therapy." Overall, I don't think there is a word that would also apply to people in physical therapy other than exerciser. Feb 9, 2021 at 23:31
  • Yeah. I kind of like, "mover", mentioned below.
    – MikeiLL
    Feb 9, 2021 at 23:31
  • @MikeiLL Mover is fine, except, I fear that mover could be misunderstood as someone who (a) works for a moving company, (b) someone who moves in any way (such as simply walking), or (c) something else (like pushing an elderly person's wheelchair). Feb 9, 2021 at 23:34
  • Ha ha. Yup. I'm definitely not happy with mover or exerciser, which could also be confused as someone who is exercising their rights.
    – MikeiLL
    Feb 9, 2021 at 23:35

Even though it's not used often, mover is a fine word, which means what it sounds like (a person or thing in motion), but I fear there's a deeper reason there's a struggle to find an "-er" word to describe this kind of being: agent nouns tend to describe agents who do the activity in an ongoing way.

For example, a runner is not merely someone who can run or who did so only yesterday, but someone who does so regularly. A painter is someone who is at least partially defined by their propensity to paint, not just someone who needs to touch up a wall that got damaged.

In the same way, the loose collection of "beings that move their body" will probably always resist an "-er" label because it includes beings that have differing levels of attachment to the regularity/proficiency of their physical activity.

To my ear, an "exerciser" is someone who is defined by their activism around a specific right, like that of free speech in many countries.

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