The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has led to lockdowns and families self-isolating in their homes, and Fitbit has released data on the declines in people’s step counts.
The fitness tracker and smartwatch maker has noted a statistically significant decline in average step count compared to the same time last year.
The virus has had a major impact on physical activity levels for Fitbit’s 30 million active users around the world.
The decline in steps varies from country to country, with European countries showing more significant change – ranging from a 7% to 38% decline in step counts during the week ending March 22, 2020.
The United States saw a 12% decline in step count, but in Europe the largest reduction in step counts was seen in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Romania, and France.
Spain, which recently passed China in its death count from coronavirus, saw the largest step decline of 38%.
Unsurprisingly, the hardest hit country, Italy, was next, with 25% fewer steps than expected in a normal virus-free week.
Portugal, which has seen a relatively smaller number of deaths, is equal to Italy in reduced steps year on year, at -25%.
Romania’s step count has dropped 24% and hard-hit France by 20%.
UK citizens have been castigated for not observing social distancing as much as they should, and this is borne out in the country’s steps being lower by just 8% than the corresponding period in 2019 – the same as Switzerland.
Clearly, all those new joggers and park walkers are still hitting the streets in high numbers.
Germany, which has proven to be remarkably resilient in terms of mortality rate, shows the lowest step count decline, at just 7%.
Fitbit established a baseline for normal activity levels around step count in each area by analyzing the activity of millions of Fitbit users with similar characteristics during the same week from the previous year.
As the above graphs demonstrate there is some reason for optimism as step counts are now rising in the far east countries of China, Japan and Hong Kong.
In the US, the difference is marked between cities. San Francisco’s step count was down around 12% for the week ending March 15 but nearly 20% for the week March 22. This is now the same decline as New York City. Both cities are currently under shelter-in-place orders.
Miami is showing the smallest decline at 8% in the most recent week.
Fitbit offers free workouts, hand-wash app, and 90-day trial of Premium
Fitbit data is being used to help monitor the spread of the virus, and the company has extended its free trial period for its guided workout Premium service to 90 days, as well as offering 40 new pieces of Premium content for free in the Fitbit app.
Now might not be the best time for steps, but Fitbit offers a lot more health and wellbeing features. For example, sleep tracking is now even more important, given its positive effects on the immune system. And taking time to relax each day has been shown to reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Find the best Fitbit for you in this roundup of tracker and smartwatch reviews.
For the company’s health smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa 2, there’s a new clock-face app, Clean Cues, to remind users to wash their hands for 20 seconds every hour.