Pandemic trends show that despite some restrictions many countries are experiencing, we’re still finding many ways to move. According to Garmin trends data, yes. Most of the world’s daily step count has decreased significantly. However, this is not the whole picture, since many people have developed new routines with different types of exercises to stay active. So just because we’re experiencing a pandemic doesn’t mean we’re sitting on our behind all day.
There has been a massive shift in the way people are moving across the globe. An earlier report by Garmin saw remarkable changes in the types of sports and exercises people were choosing to do. Moreover, Garmin states that simply looking at the step count won’t tell a complete story. We know that this number is down in every country, but it doesn’t necessarily mean people are exercising less. Think about it. There could be a lady who lives in a tiny flat in Italy, who hasn’t been able to walk much at all. But we don’t know what she’s doing in her flat to keep active. For all we know, she could be cycling indoors for 20 km a day. Garmin has taken this into consideration in their new pandemic trend report. In fact, it could even mean that many people are moving more.
We need to get an accurate picture of how people are moving around the world. Fortunately, Garmin’s wearable devices can tell us how people are moving, and not just if they’re moving. We do know that the total worldwide steps decreased by 12% in April 2020. However, steps from just workout activities increased by 24%. This means that more people are exercising but in different ways. This makes up for the suppression of normal daily movement during the pandemic.
Pandemic Restrictions Aren’t Stopping Us
It’s crazy to think that years from today, we’re going to look back at this pandemic and remember April as the month COVID-19 hit us. Coronavirus has extended its debilitating reach to nearly every country, culture, and community on Earth. There’s no denying the fact that the pandemic has impacted our daily lives phenomenally. Besides that, we thought it would be interesting to report back on the effects it’s having on human activity.
According to the Garmin report, we see a clear reflection of the pandemic’s crippling global power. Especially when you compare April 2020 to April last year. Aggregated data from millions of Garmin users shows a worldwide decrease of 12% in average daily steps.
Note that Garmin applied a fixed data scale to every country in the world. For this reason, results are magnified for countries with lower population counts and stricter stay-at-home orders. For example, the U.S. compared to Uzbekistan. While Uzbekistan is nowhere near the U.S. in the number of coronavirus cases. There is a bigger percentage decrease because there are fewer people and stricter lockdown rules.
Although the data shows we’re not walking as much as before, we are moving quite a bit. People are keeping fit during this pandemic by completing home workouts and other forms of activity to compensate. We can’t deny the fact that it’s certainly become a lot more interesting when it comes to exercise. People are demonstrating a lot of creativity.
We can see that there’s a clear reduction in general movement, but when we take a deeper look at the data. Things get a bit more enticing. Garmin reports that a portion of these total worldwide steps come from uploaded activities like running, cycling, and hiking. With 20 built-in active apps on Garmin devices, they were able to accurately detect this data.
This means that if we just look at the steps coming from these logged activities. We can find the opposite trend.
On average, the steps from logged activities were up 24% worldwide. To sum up, people have started to engage in unique exercise activities to make up for lost steps in their everyday routines. Not bad for being locked in your home due to a pandemic.
Whether it’s true, pandemic or not, come hell-high-water, people are getting their exercise in.
Interesting Pandemic Activities
The question remains, what is everybody doing to stay fit during the pandemic?
Based on the data, it’s clear that Garmin users are turning to activities that are most viable depending on their geographic location. Some of these activities were highlighted in our previous post on pandemic trends in the U.S. and Europe. However, this new data gives us a complete global picture.
The picture below shows activities that saw the largest increase in each country. This is when we compare April 2020 to April 2019.
From what we can see, it seems that most countries have taken to indoor cycling. Apparently, Australians and Canadians both seem to agree that walking is the best activity during life in quarantine. But China, Mexico, South Africa, and a handful of other countries have all turned to fitness equipment workouts. But what kind of fitness equipment workouts? Garmin says that indoor cardio accounts for 50% of these workouts. Last year during
During the same time period, over 50% of the activities in this category were strength training. That’s very interesting, the pandemic has definitely forced people to make adjustments to their usual routine.
Remember when everybody was raving about strength training? Well, now we have to adapt and look into doing some more cardio too. Moreover, this shift indicates that we’ve made a shift from gym-structured workouts to home-based ‘find-a-way’ workouts. Although it’s evident that a vast majority of people cycle indoors, Garmin took it a step further. They decided to consult a couple of Garmin pro athletes to collect some qualitative context. Interestingly, they said that certain areas like France are not able to cycle outside. says U.S. triathlete Taylor
As a result of the pandemic, many who never did indoor cycling are now doing it five times per week.
Swimming Has Taken A Hit
The triathlete also said that many athletes are spending more time on platforms like Zwift. He said that their training group meets once every 2 weeks to do a session together. It’s a great way to keep yourself motivated to keep moving when having regular virtual sessions. Moreover, it’s a wonderful way to remain in contact even if it is only once a week. This is particularly important if you’re used to meeting regularly with your training group of workout buddies at the gym.
Whilst the pandemic has pushed humanity toward some activities, it has decisively turned it away from others. In a previous article that focused on European trends, it noted that swimming had all but disappeared. As we compare April 2020 to April 2019, this looks to be a global trend too. The data shows significant decreases in swimming activity from the Americas to the Far East.
We Make A Plan
However, this doesn’t mean that swimmers are just sitting all day. The data shows that in Australia 54% of the users who swam in April 2019 are instead running outdoors in April 2020. Then in China, 43% of the users swam
in April of last year they were either running or cycling outside this year. In the U.S., pro triathletes are keeping up their fitness by working hard at home. Since most public pools are closed, they’re doing more gym-based strength workouts. If you’re a swimmer, then you can even try to replicate some movements and muscle patterns of swimming.
When it comes to multisport training, hiking and golf there’s been a massive decrease in multiple countries. But like swimmers, these guys are looking for alternatives. For example, in South Africa, 20% of the users who were golfing in April 2019 turned to indoor fitness workouts in April 2020. And then another 11% began indoor cycling.
Use the Pandemic Wisely
The consensus seems to be that people are using this time to their advantage. Particularly if you’re an athlete, we’d imagine you’re using this pandemic to prepare your body for when sports return. It’s important to try to maintain your usual activity levels even if it means trying something new.
In conclusion, it’s obvious that we are finding a way to move no matter what. From the mainstream to a professional athlete, people are adapting routines but clearly not stopping them. If you’re a runner but used to enjoy running with your teammates, then try listening to some podcasts or audiobooks while you run. There’s always a way to work around this pandemic.
Hold tight guys, team sports will return eventually. But for now, finding other ways to move on your own is your best bet. Fitness is just one of the millions of routine adjustments being made around the world.
Want to know more?
Snacking all day, making constant trips to the fridge? Yeah, we totally get where you’re coming from.
The Impact of the Global Pandemic on Human Activity: Part III. Garmin. https://www.garmin.com/en-US/blog/fitness/the-impact-of-the-global-pandemic-on-human-activity-part-iii/
The Global Pandemic and Active Lifestyles: Part II. Garmin. https://www.garmin.com/en-US/blog/general/the-global-pandemic-and-active-lifestyles-part-ii/