There has been much speculation on the effects of self-isolation in recent months on weight, sleep and activity levels. Withings data provides the answer on how we are faring. Surprisingly, the situation is not as bleak as one might expect.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed our lives in a matter of months. Stay-at-home measures mean we cannot go to gyms as before, and exercising outdoors is limited to certain activities and durations.
It is logical to expect that in these circumstances many will be effected with ballooning weight, binge drinking and daytime naps. But what does the data say?
The Withings Lockdown Lowdown Study has crunched information from over 2 million users of Withings fitness trackers, smartwatches, sleep monitors and smart scales to provide us with the answer. The data was anonymised and compared against aggregated data from weeks leading up to it.
Britain was pitted against other countries in the world, with at least 100,000 people analysed in the US, China, France, Germany and Italy. The periods under observation differ and correspond to when the self-isolation began in each country, up until April 18th.
Starting off with the all important weight-gain. Have we been piling on the pounds? One would expect so.
Well, it seems that Brits has been staying away from excessive comfort foods. According to Withings the average person only gained .35 lbs (.16 kg) during the period under observation. We don’t know the reasons for this but perhaps the home-cooked meals are healthier, more nutritious and less fattening that the takeaways so many of us are used to.
The French have fared even better. The average person in that country only gained .19 lbs (.084 kg). Those in China, Italy and Germany came in at .55 lbs (.25 kg), .42 lbs (.195 kg) and .41 lbs (.189 kg) respectively.
Americans also faired surprisingly well. Only 37% of those in the country gained more than a pound, with the average weight gain coming in at .21 pounds (.095 kg).
Globally, just 40% of people have put on more than a pound.
What about our step counts?
Most people don’t walk enough but are we using the current situation as an excuse to lounge on the sofa?
Once again, the situation does not look too bleak. The step count of the average Brit decreased some 8% during the lockdown. That’s not too bad considering the situation. What is not good is that it fell from already low levels.
Statistics for the US are fairly similar. The average step count in that country fell only 7%. With a 22% decline, New York faired much worse. Not too surprising considering the strict self-isolation measures in that state. Those living in Connecticut, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan and Luisiana bucked the trend and actually managed to increase step counts slightly during the pandemic.
The same goes for Germany where the step count increased by 1%. Italy, France and China, on the other hand, registered a fall of around a quarter. Hubei was at the bottom end of the rankings with a whopping 56% decline.
The perfect time to catch up on sleep
For a nation of sleep deprived people self-isolation would be a perfect time to catch up on much needed rest. Well, it seems Brits are only sleeping 15 minutes more during the lockdown. The data is actually very similar to that derived by Fitbit a few weeks ago.
It is surprising most of us are not using the opportunity to sleep more. People are working from home so are not commuting to and from work.
Americans are, on average, sleeping just 12 minutes more and Germans 8 minutes. Those living in other countries are faring slightly better. Chinese and Italians are sleeping 17 minutes more with the French topping the rankings at 20 minutes.
How are people managing to stay active?
With gyms closed, activities such as hiking and yoga that allow for social distancing have jumped in popularity. People are obviously managing to find alternative ways to stay active during these stressful times. Solo sports are in, while team sports and those requiring equipment or courts are out.
In terms of actual stats, the popularity of yoga is up 42%, hiking 34%, indoor cycling 19% and outdoor running 18%. On the other hand, there are 66% fewer tennis sessions, swimming is down 53%, badminton 50% and indoor running 39%.
“During these challenging times, we are all having to change our behaviors and find ways to adapt to the new normal,” said Mathieu Letombe, CEO of Withings.
“Our Lockdown Lowdown Study shows that despite geographical differences, people are finding similar ways to adapt and maintain healthy and active lifestyles. Isolation doesn’t have to mean idleation. When staying home, there are plenty of ways to stay active and cognizant of our health, as our users continue to show us.”
More details on the Withings Lockdown Lowdown study can be found on this link.
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