Lockdown sparks global yoga craze, digital health survey shows

Young sporty woman practicing yoga, doing upward facing dog exercise, Urdhva mukha shvanasana pose, working out, wearing sportswear, pants and top, indoor full length, white yoga studio

Digital health firm Withings has used its technology to produce a read-out of how COVID-19 lockdowns have affected the health of its users, showing a smaller than expected increase in weight, a global yoga craze and an increase in exercise in some areas of the US.

Overall results showed that while the changes to routine had caused some people to gain weight and cut back on exercise, the effects of isolation were not as drastic as some people feared. 

Results from the survey showed that in the US only 37% of people have gained more than a pound, with the average gain at only .21 pounds (0.95 kgs).

Other countries have seen similar weight gain trends of people gaining around half a pound or less during isolation. 

In the UK the figure was .16 kgs, in Germany the average person gained .189 kgs, in China the figure was .25 kgs, and in Italy the average gain was .195 kgs. 

In France, the lockdown has had the smallest impact on weight, where the average person has only gained .084 kgs. 

Withings said that research has not revealed why this has happened – but it suggested that home-cooked meals are healthier because they cause people to eat more nutritious foods and take in fewer calories. 

Results also showed that in the US people have only decreased their daily steps by an average of 7% during isolation, compared with 12% globally. 

But findings varied from state to state, with New York seeing the largest decrease in daily steps of 22%, where lockdown restrictions are the toughest. 

In some states, the number of steps actually increased, up by 16% in Indiana, and by 11% in Connecticut. In Ohio and Michigan the number of steps increased by 6% and Louisiana also saw the number of steps increase by 4%.

In the UK the steps taken were down by 8%, and the tough lockdown in China had the biggest impact with steps decreasing by over half (56%) in Hubei, where the pandemic first originated. 

There has also been a global surge in yoga, which saw a 42% increase in popularity, hiking (up 34%), indoor cycling (a 19% increase) and running (an 18% increase). 

Sleep patterns have been disturbed, however, with those in America going to bed 11 minutes later than usual and waking up almost 26 minutes later than usual. 

The country that gained the least weight also got the most sleep, where people had an average 20 minutes and 40 seconds more sleep each night. 

This reinforced findings by Withings predecessor Nokia that people who sleep less are more likely to be overweight or obese.