Strava’s year-end data shows the hot new sport this year is walking

Strava just released its year-end review with heaps of interesting data on its 95 million subscribers around the world. While the data is obviously specific to Strava users, with a data pool that large, it does shed some light on how people are exercising during yet another tough pandemic year. One big surprise: The new hot sport this year is walking.

For starters, Strava doesn’t shy away from saying that its app brings in 2 million new subscribers every month – with a lot of those numbers most likely due to app integration from Apple Watch, Peloton, Garmin, and iFit, to name a few. In total, app users logged in an impressive 20 billion miles run, walked, and cycled – that’s both indoors and out.

For those who like charts and graphs, Strava digs fairly deep into the nitty-gritty of how, when, and where people are using the app, all of which you can access here. Not surprisingly, cyclists accounted for more than half of those miles covered this year – a total 10.5 billion miles. US riders recorded 1.3 billion miles, both virtual and real (and as for how many of those are due to Peloton users, I’ll update this post if I hear back from Strava).

For the runners among us, Strava users pounded the pavement for 2.4 billion miles this year, with users swapping 120 million suggested routes with other Strava users. (If you want to see how you measure up to the global average, most runners covered a distance per run of 3.9 miles at 38:48.) For all that effort, 9.6 billion kudos have been given this year.

What’s hot this year: walking, yoga, and connected bikes

As the pandemic kept those gym doors shut tight, Strava’s data shows that walking, hiking, and at-home yoga are on the rise, in addition to connected runs and cycling, with an increase of 1.4x in activity uploads from last year for both treadmills and indoor bikes. For the walkers, most people uploaded walks of around 2.5 to four hours a week, showing that users are committing more time to it, which is fairly new for Strava, which has a reputation built on hardcore athletes (again, this could be due to integration from other devices). More runners and cyclists logged in walking on their rest days, especially among females. This isn’t to say that women are walking more than men; rather, they are just more willing to set those workouts from private to public.

Winter sports took a hit this year, with many resorts closed or heavily restricted. Alpine skiing and snowboarding were down 37% this year compared to last, according to the data. On the upside, though, Strava users still enjoyed the snow with a 2.5x increase in backcountry and Nordic skiing.

How climate change impacts fitness

Probably some of the strangest data shared in the report is an analysis of how extreme weather and terrible air pollution impact athlete behavior. You don’t have to be a data scientist to imagine that people skip their outdoor runs during floods, freezes, or heat waves, opting instead for an indoor workout, or in more extreme examples, just trying to stay alive. But those numbers do serve as a painful reminder of all the terrible climate events that took place this year around the globe, from the February freeze in Texas to flooding in Nagano, Japan, in August, all of which are detailed in the report.

Photo by Jad Limcaco/Unsplash

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