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.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
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 48 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 2019.
Exercising together trumps working out solo
Last year’s data showed that people keep people active. We tend to exercise longer if in groups, particularly as we get older.
This year it is no different. According to the 2019 statistics, most runners and cyclist head out between 6 and 8am on weekdays. The earlier they start, the merely likely it is they’ll be going along with others. Finding a friend, training partner or club is likely to keep you motivated to beat that annoying early morning alarm.
This is even more true for women. They are more likely than men to exercise with other people due to safety fears. The data shows that 27% of rides by men were grouped in 2019 versus 37% for women. The respective statistics for running are 22% and 32%.
Almost half of female runners surveyed by Strava said they don’t feel safe when out alone. This is why about half of all evening runs recorded by women in the UK are with someone else.
We are exercising more than last year
There was an increase this year in the number of runners completing a UK marathon or ultramarathon. The percentage of us that have done this grew by 7.6% in the US and 3.9% in the UK. About 5.8% of runners in the UK completed a marathon or ultramarathon in 2019. Many of these seem to be first-timers as they have never uploaded a marathon to Strava before. The biggest boost this year was seen in Japan.
Goal setting helps
With New Year resolution time approaching fast it is good to know that planning for success matters. The data shows that long-term goal setting is important, but the path to success might not necessarily be a direct one.
Marathon runners who improved their personal best during the year increased their non-run activity by 13%. This illustrates the importance of mixing up your workouts.
It’s also good to aim for three activities per week instead of two. Those who do this tend to stick with them longer so this results in 2x more activities per year.
Virtual riding platforms continue to grow
Athletes are increasingly workout out indoors as virtual riding facilities continue to grow. This includes platforms such as Swift and TrainerRoad, along with studio classes which make such activities more interesting. Who knew connected stationary bikes were so popular? You might struggle to find one in your local gym.
Polar Vantage M was the fastest growing new running device
We saw quite a few new smartwatches during 2019 and it seems the fastest growing new purchase was the Polar Vantage M (view on Amazon). A less expensive stripped-back version of Vantage V, it comes with an impressive array of features packed into something that is good looking and lightweight.
The second most popular new running device was the Garmin Forerunner 945 (view on Amazon). An updated version of the 935, it dishes up pretty much everything Garmin has on offer for runners. The Garmin Instinct followed in third place.
Single-sport athletes are on the decline
There is more than one way to keep fit and athletes are increasingly realising this. Activities such as yoga, weight training and walking are becoming more popular. Walking has seen a 67% rise as a secondary activity amongst runners and cyclists during the year, yoga 74% and weight training 289%.
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