How the pandemic is changing our exercise habits

Therefore, it should not be surprising to any of us to know that a pandemic seems to change whether we exercise, when and how we exercise. However, many recent studies have shown that the nature of these changes remains fairly confusing and variable. For one, researchers reported that in the first few weeks of the pandemic blockade in the United States and other countries, Google searches related to the word “exercise” surged and remained on the rise for months. I am.


And it seems that many people are actually using the information gathered from those searches by exercising more. An online survey conducted by Run Repeat, a reviewer of running shoes, in 139 countries reported that the majority of people who were exercising before the onset of the health crisis were exercising more often in the weeks that followed. Did. Another survey of about 1,500 Japanese seniors found that most were not quite active in the early weeks of the blockade, but by June they were still walking. I was exercising.

However, a darker June study using anonymous data from more than 450,000 users of the smartphone’s step counting app concludes that steps have dropped significantly around the world since the lockdown began. Was done. During the first 10 days of the country’s pandemic blockade, the average number of steps per day decreased by about 5.5%, and by the end of the first month it decreased by about 27%.

However, most of these studies and studies are aimed at people who recall potentially unreliable exercise habits or look at aggregated results without delving into differences due to age, socio-economic group, gender, or other factors. I was dependent. Exercise habits may have changed during the pandemic.

So, for a new study posted on a biology preprint site waiting for peer review, researchers at the University College London are using a free activity tracking smartphone available in the UK and several other countries. I turned to the data from the app. The app uses GPS and similar technology to track the time people spend walking, running, and cycling, allowing users to accumulate exercise points that they can use for money and other rewards. (One of the authors of the survey works for an app maker, but according to the other authors of the survey, the company did not provide input to the survey results or analysis.)

Researchers have collected anonymous data from 5,395 app users living in the UK between adolescent and adult ages. All of them had been using the app since at least January before the pandemic spread to the country.


Researchers used the app’s data on the user’s date of birth and zip code to divide people by age and region and find out how much they exercised in January. Then they began to compare the early days of social distance restrictions in various parts of Britain, then the tighter blockades, and finally the midsummer dates when most blockades in the country were relaxed.

They, of course, found that the exercise habits of almost everyone changed when the pandemic began. The overwhelming majority, regardless of gender or socioeconomic status, did not work, especially when a complete blockade began. This decline was most pronounced between those who were most active before the pandemic and those under the age of 40 (not necessarily the same).

Most people started exercising a little more often after the blockade was lifted or relaxed, but in general, only those over the age of 65 returned to or exceeded their previous exercise time.

“Especially because 50% of the older groups were over 70,” said Abi Fisher, an associate professor of physical activity and health at University College London, who oversaw the new study, and said the results were surprising. ..


Of course, these older people downloaded and used the exercise app, just like the other men and women surveyed. This distinguishes it from the vast majority of people around the world who do not use such apps. The study also covers only “formal” exercises such as walking, running, and cycling, not light activities such as walking and gardening. These can be beneficial to your health as well and can change during a pandemic.

And while this study doesn’t tell us anything about why people’s exercise habits differed during a pandemic, it’s very likely that some mixture of situation and psychology is a factor. According to Fisher, older people had more free time to exercise than younger adults juggling childcare, work, and other responsibilities during a pandemic. They may also have greater concerns about their immune system and general health and motivate them to stand up and move.

She said a much larger and longer-term study of exercise during a pandemic was needed. But for now, the message of research available seems to be that you may want to monitor how much we are moving to ensure that we are exercising well. ..

New York Times

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How the pandemic is changing our exercise habits

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