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Strava’s Yearly Data Shows a Boom in Global Exercise Amid the Pandemic

Strava has released its annual Year in Sport data report, revealing 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 high for the platform

More than 1.1 billion activities were uploaded to Strava in the last 12 months, a 33% increase from the year prior. During 2020, the Strava community also grew by about 2 million new athletes each month.

“During a challenging year, it has been a privilege to connect athletes to what motivates them and help them find their personal best,” said Michael Horvath, Strava CEO.

“Community members shared more than a billion activities including nearly 400 million photos with each other, from solitary virtual marathons and Everesting bike rides to midday walks while working from home. And through it all, athletes from around the world cheered each other on, proving that every effort counts and people keep people active.”

Key findings from the 2020 Year in Sport include:

Competition looked different in 2020, but that didn’t stop athletes from pushing themselves to new personal bests and competing against each other virtually:

  • Everesting (accumulating 29,029 ft in one activity by repeating a single climb) surged in popularity this year for pro and amateur cyclists alike. 600% more successful Everesting rides were uploaded in June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
  • Despite the cancellation of marathons, hundreds of thousands of 26.2 mile runs were uploaded to Strava – three times as many marathons were run alone 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.
  • Athletes who were active on Strava in both 2019 and 2020 increased their activity frequency by over 13%.

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.

Countries navigated COVID-19 restrictions differently, and athletes followed suit:

  • Nations with strict lockdown restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic, like Spain (-67%) and Italy (-64%), saw a plummet in outdoor activity until restrictions eased.
  • Countries like the US and the UK, 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 US during the same time period.

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.

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.
  • Over 1 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.

Globally, cyclists logged 8.1 billion miles with 400 billion feet of elevation gain, while runners added another 1.9 billion miles and 94.5 billion feet of climbing. Athletes in the United States contributed 1.2 billion miles cycling, and 387 million miles running.

Year In Sport 2020 analyzes public activity uploads on Strava between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. Private activities, and activities from athletes who have opted out of Strava Metro and the Global Heatmap are excluded.

2020 Strava community totals at a glance:

  • 73 million total athletes
  • 1.1 billion activity uploads
  • 2 million athletes join every month
  • 172,000 Strava Clubs created
  • 71 million Strava Challenge joins by athletes
  • 386.4 million photos uploaded
  • 7.1 billion Kudos given





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