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Has COVID-19 Changed Workouts Permanently?

October 30, 2020
October 30, 2020 Tom Flanagan


The pandemic has shown just how vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions are.  Being overweight and obese are two of the most impacted. Obesity, which is defined as having a BMI > 30, and being overweight, a BMI of 25 to 29.9, is linked to other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, lung problems and certain cancers.  Individuals who are overweight or obese (32% and 42% of Americans respectively), are at a higher risk to have a severe case of COVID-19 when compared to individuals of normal weight.  A meta-analysis published in August 2020, showed that obese individuals are 113% more likely to need hospital intervention, 74% more likely to be admitted to the ICU, and 48% more likely to die of COVID-19 than people of healthy weight.  Out of 17,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations reported, 77% of those were either overweight (29%) or obese (48%). 


While being active and of healthy weight is more important than ever, according to the CDC, only 25% of all Americans meet the physical activity guidelines for both aerobic and strength training. This means about 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, and a minimum of 2 bouts of strength training.  In mid to late March when gyms (and most of the world) first entered shutdown mode, it was estimated that even active Americans were exercising 33% less than previously.  People scrambled trying to figure out how to get a workout while their gym remained closed and with no news of reopening anytime soon.


As weeks passed, this uncertainty led to a 600% increase in fitness equipment sales for the home.  Bicycle sales went through the roof while dumbbells, kettlebells and weight benches were nowhere to be seen within weeks of the pandemic starting.  Virtual workouts were also showing an uptick.  Pandemic estimates show an increase of over 85% in live streaming workouts, 73% in pre-recorded when compared to a mere 7% and 17% respectively, in 2019.  Fitness equipment manufacturers have continued to integrate streaming content and fitness apps into their products.  There are treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes that allow you to create your own workouts. This can be done via Google maps, taking a class with an instructor, or racing against someone located across the world.  All in the privacy of your own home! 


Has the pandemic changed how we workout permanently?  Maybe so, but I hope not (I like a good group exercise class every now and then).  A survey conducted back in July indicated that most Americans don’t feel safe working out in a gym while another survey found that 25% do not plan to go back.  With people working from home and saving time by not having to commute, they are finding they have more time to work out.  Recent estimates indicate 56% of respondents are working out more during COVID than before (an average of at least 5 times per week). 


Those using streaming apps, virtual classes, and/or training sessions say they are less intimidated working out in their homes versus going to a facility.  They are also finding it to be a very cost-effective way to work out rather than paying for a gym membership.  While there haven’t been many positives related to COVID-19, this increase we are seeing in exercise adherence might be one of the few. It will have lasting benefits to both our physical and mental health.  Is a streaming app or latest fitness gadget required to get a good workout?  Maybe not, but this pandemic has shown them to have their place and be an effective tool to help motivate and keep people active while staying safe. 


If you’re interested in adding some exercise equipment to your home gym or commercial gym, contact us today.









Cording, J. (2020, July 13). How COVID-19 Is Transforming The Fitness Industry. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jesscording/2020/07/13/covid-19-transforming-fitness-industry/

Meredith WadmanSep. 8, 2., Robert F. ServiceOct. 22, 2., Lucy HicksOct. 20, 2., Lucy HicksOct. 15, 2., Lucy HicksSep. 23, 2., & Rasha AridiSep. 23, 2. (2020, September 11). Why COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity-even if they’re young. Retrieved from https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/09/why-covid-19-more-deadly-people-obesity-even-if-theyre-young 

Overweight & Obesity. (2020, September 17). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/index.html

Roy, Less, DeSimone, Rowley, Peterson, Ronai, . . . Kercher. (n.d.). Login. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/toc/2019/11000






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