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Strava’s 2018 review: virtual rides on the rise along with group activities

Strava’s annual end-year review is here to reveal sports and fitness trends around the world. We sift through the data to bring you the most compelling insights.

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Founded in 2009, Strava is one of the best known social fitness apps around. More than just a popular GPS-based exercise tracker, the app lets you set challenges for yourself and others. Some 36 million runners, cyclists and active people from around 200 countries use this app to record their activities, compare performance over time, and share the photos, stories and highlights of their adventures.

Towards the end of each year, Strava aggregates user activity to provide us with an interesting look at fitness trends for the year. The company has just announced its year-in-review report for 2018.


Exercising together trumps working out solo

boost your gym session with one of these workout trackers - Strava's 2018 review: virtual rides on the rise along with group activities
Image source: Fitbit

The data shows that athletes who work in groups tend to be more active. Those cycling on their own register 12.7 miles less per session than those in groups. Although not as drastic, similar differences can be spotted for runners, hikers, swimmers and walkers. The average duration across all sports increases by 10.2% and the average distance by 21.4% for those who team up.

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Image source: Strava, Year in Review 2018

The older we get, the more we enjoy working out in groups. Those over 50 are most likely to choose this type of activity with groups averaging 8.6 members. Athletes in the UK tend to be most social, on average teaming up with an additional 12.6 people.

It seems that joining a club also helps. Those with club memberships upload over three times more activities than non-club members. The five largest clubs include the Strava Club, GCN, Lululemon Global Run Free, Swift and 1000km in 2018.


Virtual riding is the most popular group activity

Exercising indoors doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In fact, the advent of sports technology has propelled virtual riding as the most popular group activity, ahead of cycling in the real-world and nordic skiing.

 

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Image source: Strava, Year in Review 2018

Who knew connected stationary bikes were so popular? You might struggle to find one in your local gym on a Tuesday as this is the most popular day for indoor activities. Your chances will increase as the weekend approaches.

With everyone doing their best to get fit for the summer, May 6th was the most active day of the year across the globe. More than 2 million activities were uploaded on that Sunday.

Among those living in the US, the most active day across all sports was Wednesday, July 4th. Contrary to popular belief, not all Americans were sitting around that day setting off fireworks and enjoying barbecues. For runners in particular, it’s become a tradition to start the Thanksgiving holiday with fitness in mind. November 23rd was the most popular day this year in the US for running.


Running is the most popular sport

fitbit ionic 2 our hopes for the next generation tracker 4 - Strava's 2018 review: virtual rides on the rise along with group activities
Image source: Fitbit

Running is the most popular sport for both men and women, followed by cycling. Swimming was the next most popular sport for men and walking for women. The half marathon was the most popular race type, followed by marathon and 10k.

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Image source: Strava, Year in Review 2018

Men and women in the 40 to 49 age bracket enjoy hitting the pavement most, clocking up 5.5 miles and 4.7 miles per run respectively. Who knew that those above the age of 60 tend to be just as resilient as those below 30 when it comes to the average length of their runs.

The Prospect Park 5K (North Start, Brooklyn, NY), was the most often run route globally among Strava users. Box Hill – Junction to Island (Dorking, UK) was the most popular ride.

strava s 2018 review virtual rides on the rise along with group activities 1 - Strava's 2018 review: virtual rides on the rise along with group activities
Prospect Park | Image source: Wikimedia

If you enjoy more than one type of activity, the good news is you won’t divvy up your workouts. You’ll double them!


Goal setting helps

With New Year resolution time approaching fast its good to know that planning for success matters. The data shows that athletes who set annual goals increase rides by 15.1%, swims by 15.1% and runs by 14.7% during the year. Contrary to popular belief, 95% of riders, 93% of swimmers and 79% of runners are still hard at it 6 months after setting their goal.


Running and biking to work are on the rise

Fitbit Alta HR Lifestyle BikeCheckTracker - Strava's 2018 review: virtual rides on the rise along with group activities
Image source: Fitbit

It’s excellent news in the fight against global warming that commuting to work is becoming more popular. People are powering themselves to their offices avoiding traffic jams, high fuel costs and helping to offset more than 1.3 billion pounds of CO2 (according to Strava estimates).

The number of running commutes increased by a staggering 70% from 2017 to 21.8 million uploads this year. Granted not all of this was an actual increase. No doubt, the growing number of athletes using the platform is partially responsible for the steep rise in the figures. The median distance covered per run commute averaged 4.1 miles.

For those choosing to cycle the work, it’s a similar picture. Some 84.6 million of journeys were clocked in 2018 (with a median distance 9.0 miles), up from 59.3 million in the previous year.

For more interesting stats and insights, Strava’s full end-year review can be seen here (37 pages in PDF format).

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