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Fitbit data reveals renewed interest in stress-reducing activities during pandemic

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Since March, the world has adapted to pandemic lockdowns and it’s no surprise that our health and fitness routines have changed as a result.

New global data from Fitbit reveals how Fitbit users have embraced new activities to help manage our new normal. The Fitbit research team compared population level data from 2019 to 2020 by metrics including step count, active minutes, sleep patterns and activity types to see what differences the pandemic have driven in the Fitbit community.

Overall, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, research revealed that across APAC countries including India, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, The Philippines and Singapore stress reducing activities like meditation and yoga gained popularity throughout the world. Digging deeper into the data, the research team saw that the majority of activities that gained popularity or remained consistent happened to be activities that we typically associate with stress reduction.

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Key India findings:
  • Meditations emerged as the go-to activity amongst Fitbit users in India with a staggering uptick of 2381%
  • Yoga witnessed a 241% spike among Indian Fitbit users in 2020, highlighting a major shift and focus on mental wellness and stress management while staying indoors
  • While Indians slept the least among key APAC markets in 2019 and 2020, COVID-19 induced lockdown and following limited restrictions resulted in Indians sleeping 18 minutes more between March-August 2020 vis-à-vis the same period in 2019.
Key APAC findings:
  • Mediation, Yoga and Pilates saw huge increases in 2020 across APAC, mirroring the global trend, with meditation in particular seeing massive gains in popularity among Fitbit users across the region
  • Activity (steps and active minutes) levels across the region increased as restrictions eased, but not more than pre-pandemic levels with the exception of Hong Kong, which saw a slight increase in Jun – Aug 2020 compared to the same period the year before.
  • Hong Kong took the most steps in APAC during lockdown (Mar – May 2020) and as restrictions eased (Jun – Aug 2020), replacing Singapore as the country with the highest step count in the region.
  • The Philippines took the fewest steps in APAC in 2020, replacing India as the APAC market at the bottom of the step table.
  • Australia and New Zealand continued to lead the region in active minutes achieved, even if they did not lead in overall step count, suggesting a greater level of intentional activity such as exercise.
  • Most countries saw their lockdown gains in sleep duration reverse as they reopened, with the exception of Australia, which continued to enjoy an increase in sleep duration to 7 hrs 37 mins, a whopping 39 mins higher than the regional average.
  • Philippines was the ‘most improved’ market when it came to sleep. Increasing by 30 minutes during lockdown, and 25 minutes post-lockdown vs. 2019 sleep averages
  • The regional average Resting Heart Rate (RHR) improved during lockdown and stayed the same even as countries reopened. When compared against 2019 RHR, every single country saw an improvement.

On the whole, the data shows that while users have embraced a more sedentary lifestyle in 2020 with overall activity decreasing, many users have pivoted to more frequent stress-relieving activities.

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