Global Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Physical Activity Habits of Competitive Runners: An Analysis of Wearable Device Data Public Deposited
  • The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in government restrictions that altered the lifestyle of people worldwide. Studying the impact of these restrictions on exercise behaviors will improve our understanding of the environmental factors that influence individuals’ physical activity (PA). We conducted a retrospective analysis using an stringency index of government pandemic policies developed by Oxford University and digitally-logged PA data from more than 7000 runners collected using a wearable exercise-tracking device to compare the relationship between strictness of lockdowns and exercise habits on a global scale. Additionally, the time-of-day of PA globally, and activity-levels of PA in 14 countries, are compared between the pre-pandemic year of 2019 and the first pandemic year of 2020. We found that during the pandemic year there was a major shift in the time-of-day that runners exercised, with significantly more activity counts logged during standard working hours on workdays (p < 0.001) and fewer activities during the same time frame on weekends (p < 0.001). Of the countries examined, Italy and Spain had among the most strict lockdowns and suffered the largest decreases in activity counts, whereas France experienced a minimal decrease in activity counts despite enacting a strict lockdown with certain allowances. This study suggests that there are several factors affecting PA of dedicated runners, including government policy, workplace policy, and cultural norms.

Date Issued
  • 2022
Additional Information
  • Publication of this article was funded by the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries Open Access Fund.
Academic Affiliation
Journal Title
Journal Issue/Number
  • 19
Journal Volume
  • 19
Last Modified
  • 2022-11-15
Resource Type
Rights Statement
Peer Reviewed
  • 1660-4601


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