Insights from Strava’s global community of over 73 million athletes shed light on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on competition, performance and habits.

Strava’s annual Year in Sport report revealed a boom in global exercise amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As athletes adapted to 2020’s widespread changes to competition and routines, global activity rates on Strava increased dramatically, exceeding 30 million weekly uploads in May 2020, a record for the platform.

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Users uploaded more than 1.1 billion activities to Strava during the 12 months on review, which represents a 33% increase over 2019.

And athletes who were active on Strava in both 2019 and 2020 increased their activity frequency by over 13%.

Membership on this popular social platform for athletes also surged, with the Strava community growing by about 2 million new athletes each month during 2020.

Girl power

Activity increased year over year, led by women worldwide. Between April and September 2020, women aged 18-29 uploaded 45.2% more activities than during the same period last year, compared to a 27.3% increase by their male counterparts.

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Navigating lockdown restrictions

Countries navigated COVID-19 restrictions differently, and athletes followed suit. Nations with strict lockdown restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic saw a plummet in outdoor activity until restrictions eased, like Spain (-67%) and Italy (-64%),

Countries like the U.S. and the U.K., which limited indoor gyms but placed fewer restrictions around outdoor exercise, saw large sustained increases in outdoor activities beginning at the onset of the pandemic.

In the UK, outdoor activity levels outpaced expected growth by 82% between March and May 2020. Outdoor activity levels outpaced expectations by 28% in the U.S. during the same time period.

The world keeps walking

2020 saw a significant rise in walking. While running, cycling and indoor workouts saw a 1.5-2x rise in uploads, uploads of outdoor walks increased by 3x. Walking was also the top new activity for cyclists on the platform between April and June.

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Competitions go virtual

Virtual competition and community replaced group events in the era of social distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions.

There was a spike in both new clubs created and Strava athletes joining clubs on the platform. In April alone, over 30,000 clubs were created and nearly 250,000 athletes joined clubs on Strava.

Despite the cancellation of marathons, hundreds of thousands of 42.2km runs were uploaded to Strava — 3x as many marathons were run in 2020 compared to 2019.

In the peak month (April 2020), 76% of marathons were run solo, a 10x increase over April 2019.

Among runners active on Strava since at least 2019, 55% logged a new personal best time in their 5K, 10K, half marathon or marathon distances in 2020.

Other highlights included;

  • Over one million athletes joined Strava’s monthly 5K challenge in May, the most ever in a single challenge.
  • Total challenge joins on Strava exceeded 71 million between January and September.
  • Runners added another 1.9 billion miles and 94.5 billion feet of climbing.

Pedal power

Globally, cyclists logged 8.1 billion miles with 400 billion feet of elevation gain.

Everesting (accumulating 29,029 ft in one activity by repeating a single climb) surged in popularity this year for pro and amateur cyclists alike. Over 400% more successful Everesting rides were uploaded in June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

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