The Effect of the Global Pandemic on Active Lifestyles. Is there one?

Garmin device users recorded a 63% increase in indoor cycling, compared to the same period the year before as well as a decline in running, or so it seems on the surface.

With state and local governments issuing shelter-in-place orders, it’s no surprise that Garmin data points to a massive decline in the overall number of steps taken during the second two weeks of March. This is an obvious cause-and-effect scenario and consistent with our global trend data in China, Italy and other countries where the pandemic struck first.


Indoor cycling saw an increase in the second half of the month, precisely at the time when riders normally stop riding indoors and head outside.

If we then turn our eye to indoor treadmill running. This saw a decline of 44%. But wait you hear you say. On the surface this would sound very unusual and we’d agree.

The silver lining is that people have switched to virtual running instead which would include platforms like Zwift.

On the surface, that sounds like we’ve grinded to a halt. However, the full story points to the exact opposite. Remember, big box gyms across the country closed, which is a massive number of treadmills still sitting idle at the moment. If we look at virtual running (performed on a treadmill by linking your smartwatch to an outside app such as Zwift) we see a steep increase in the second half of March. And despite gym closures, overall indoor cardio is holding strong over 2019 levels and showing an 18% week-over-week increase from March 16 to March 30.


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