running up steps

Lockdown fitness boom continued in 2021

A silver lining for the otherwise miserable coronavirus cloud?

Good news related to the pandemic can be hard to come by these days, but a recent report by fitness tracking app Strava suggests that even this foul cloud has a silver lining.

Restrictions on group sports and indoor pursuits – as well as a focus on mental health – pushed many people into the great outdoors for exercise in 2020, a trend which has continued throughout 2021.

According to Strava’s year in sport, ‘the sports boom that started at the beginning of the pandemic continued on through 2021’. The fitness app recorded a 38% annual increase in uploaded activities – including running, walking and cycling – ‘even on top of last year's surge’.

As we know, thousands of people took up running during lockdown to help beat the blues and shift some of the extra banana bread they were carrying around their mid-sections.

So it’s good to hear that those runners who joined Strava in 2020 have been keeping up their miles too: nearly twice as many of them set new distance based PBs this year than last year. 

And the appeal of the great outdoors hasn’t faded either: the number of outdoor runs logged in 2021 increased nearly one and a half fold on 2020.

In total, Strava reports that runners using their app across the world logged a total of 2.4 billon miles in 2021 – enough to circle that same world nearly 100,000 times.

But it’s not just running that has seen a big uptick since the start of the pandemic. Walking has increased in popularity too, with UK walkers being the keenest. Twenty-four percent of all our uploaded activities are walks, compared to a global average of 15% – the same as our closest competitors in the walking stakes: the Brazilians.

But running and walking trends have negative influences too. Strava notes a 32% dip in outdoor activities recorded in the UK during late January’s Storm Christoph.  Whether logged miles will take a dip during storms Arwen and Barra remains to be seen.

With just days to go until the new year, one last trend noted by Strava is worth mentioning. People who set goals for the new year were more active in January than those who weren’t – good enough reason to put those final touches on your resolutions.

Image by Bruno Nascimento (Unsplash)

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