How are Fitbit Users Finding New Ways to Achieve Their Fitness Goals?

Shelter-in-place orders have changed much of Fitbit users’ everyday lives. We’ve been staying home, getting

Shelter-in-place orders have changed much of Fitbit users’ everyday lives. We’ve been staying home, getting more quality rest (a happy surprise), cooking more, and finding new ways to stay active, given that our step counts are down. But, our resting heart rates have improved across the board, which is great news for heart health.  

When it comes to staying active, we’ve had to get creative—and Fitbit users have risen to the challenge. In fact, data from mid-April shows that more users exercised one to two times a week in April 2020 than in April 2019. (Exercises were either auto-detected or manually logged on users’ Fitbit devices, and lasted for a duration of at least 15 minutes.) This rings true across major American cities including San Francisco, Denver, and New York, as well as global cities including Paris, Seoul, and Tokyo—with Madrid being one notable exception.  

Note that week 15 is the week ending April 14 and April 12 in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Additionally, we’re seeing more users exercising more than five times a week, with some cities posting as much as an impressive 10 percent increase. 

We love that so many of you are getting creative with your workouts outside of the gym, and wanted to dig into specific exercises logged to see exactly what’s changed. One big takeaway from our findings? While not having access to a treadmill, weights, or elliptical machine means that exercises that would be typically performed in a gym are down, the frequency of most exercises went up. For example, among those who still have access to a treadmill, we’ve seen the frequency of use increase by more than 30 percent.

That said, other exercises that can be performed at home or outside are on the rise! Walk exercises, or brisk walks that last for at least 15 minutes, are up, and walks still constitute a large portion of user exercises. We’ve also seen substantial increases in the popularity of biking, yoga, and aerobic workouts. Among users who exercised at least once per week, yoga and biking have seen an increase of over 40 percent, while aerobic workouts have increased by more than 20 percent—meaning that users are taking this time to switch up their fitness routines. 

The one category of exercise that saw a decrease in frequency is sport, which typically engages a group of people. As this isn’t possible at the moment, we’ve observed a nearly 18 percent decrease in frequency. 

Another fun fact: the timing of exercise has also shifted. Now that users are less bound to a typical workday schedule, we’ve seen fewer lunchtime walks or early morning runs that used to be squeezed in before a commute. And now that the weekend is less packed with social activities, we’ve seen an increase in Friday evening runs. 

While the timing of exercise has shifted around the world, changes have not been consistent from region to region. In San Francisco, California, we’re seeing a concentration of runs in the late afternoon on weekdays and late morning on weekends. In Tokyo, Japan, the reverse is true, as runs are being logged in late mornings during the week and late afternoons during the weekend. 

No matter the timing, staying active while we’re sheltering-in-place is hugely important for our physical and mental health. Exercise improves energy levels, promotes restful sleep, and can boost your overall mood. We’re excited to see that so many of our users are making exercise a priority during this time of upended schedules, and hope this sets the foundation for lasting workout habits as we continue moving forward together. 

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