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Garmin data shows how we’re staying active during the coronavirus pandemic

The novel coronavirus has altered the way we do everything — and working out is no different.

Fitness influencers who once scarcely posted on YouTube are sharing new at-home workouts almost daily. You may have noticed friends and family livestreaming push-up challenges on Instagram. Weights, resistance bands, yoga mats, and exercise equipment are quickly selling out online to accommodate consumers looking to keep up with their prior physical fitness routines while still remaining indoors.

This societal shift led Garmin, which manufactures wearable fitness trackers and smartwatches, to take a look at the activity tracking data of millions of its registered users from the moment a national state of emergency was declared in the U.S. on March 13.

The company said in a press release that it found a “massive decline in the overall number of steps taken during the second two weeks of March,” on par with trends it was tracking in other parts of the world, like Italy and China.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Some obvious outdoor activities took a big hit during the last two weeks of March, like snowboarding, skiing, and golfing. Snow hubs in states like Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah closed abruptly overnight to shut down any chance of spread via ski resorts,. This corresponds with Garmin’s findings: Outdoor skiing and snowboarding took a 96% drop compared to the same time period a year earlier.

Gyms have closed indefinitely in some parts of the country, meaning indoor treadmill running numbers are down 44%, as many Americans do not own large exercise machines. Fitness giants like Peloton, Barry’s Bootcamp, YMCA, and Blink Fitness have launched their own virtual workout classes to appease members looking to stay healthy during the pandemic.

What is perhaps more intriguing is how much more Americans are relying on working out at home right now: Garmin found its users to be taking part in virtual cycling classes (up 64%), practicing yoga for its dual physical and emotional benefits (up 11%), and going on outdoor strolls (up 36%) as a way to escape the house for a few moments a day during quarantine.

Garmin said its engineers and analysts will continue to monitor the data for the month of April as a way to “reflect the impact of the full 30-day stay-at-home period and offer an even more detailed look at the effect of the global pandemic on our active lifestyles.”

But as social distancing and self-isolating continues to stretch on for longer than many anticipated, at-home workout routines, influencers, and fitness stakeholders will face increased pressure to think outside of the box.

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Meira Gebel
Meira Gebel is a freelance reporter based in Portland. She writes about tech, social media, and internet culture for Digital…
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