How COVID-19 Affected Our Health and Fitness Habits

by MyFitnessPal
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How COVID-19 Affected Our Health and Fitness Habits

After 14 months of restaurant shutdowns, gym closures, quarantine orders and safety mandates, the world is slowly reopening. As the global vaccination rollout continues, we have also witnessed a massive uptick in travel, dining out and revenge shopping.

But has the last year and a half taught us something about ourselves? What did we do with all that time we spent at home? Are we still hesitant to make our way back out into the world when so much uncertainty lies ahead?

MyFitnessPal surveyed its users to find the general sentiment around the “grand reopening,” and what it means for the healthy habits they picked up — or dropped — during the pandemic. Here’s what we found:

How COVID-19 Affected Our Health and Fitness Habits


To start, 64.4% of those surveyed say their eating habits have changed during the pandemic, with close to half (49.50%) saying they are more mindful of food choices related to health and fitness. And there is, in fact, some good that came out of staying at home for meals, with the chance to eat fewer restaurant meals and pay more attention to healthy preparation. More than half (53.66%) say they feel better and healthier overall since eating more meals at home.

How COVID-19 Affected Our Health and Fitness Habits


As for fitness, 65.4% of respondents say their exercise habits have changed during the pandemic, with 50.92% saying they are actually working out more. In a surprise to no one, a large number of MyFitnessPal members (76.14%) currently exercise at home, with 57.13% breaking a sweat outdoors and just 21.22% headed to the gym. And, as many have noticed on a daily walk for fresh air (or to get away from our family/roommates for just a few minutes), the sidewalks saw more traffic. The most popular activity during the pandemic was walking (at 82.15%), followed by strength training (49.94%), weightlifting (28.41%), running/jogging (25.87%), cycling (25.24%), hiking (23.32%), and yoga/pilates (22.70%).

How COVID-19 Affected Our Health and Fitness Habits


Many of these pandemic habits aren’t just for the short term. Over half of respondents (66.97%) say they are likely to maintain current eating habits long term, with 69.58% saying the same for their fitness-related activities. And, in a nod to sticking with healthy eating habits, 80.48% of those surveyed said they are likely to continue cooking more at-home, even after restrictions have lifted. Likewise, at least over the next six months, 73.7% said they still plan on working out at home, while just 35.4% plan to return to fitness studios. No surprise there, given the massive uptick in at-home fitness equipment sales — which looks to become a new favorite way to work out.

How COVID-19 Affected Our Health and Fitness Habits


When it comes to outdoor dining, our users are unsure how they feel about going back to restaurants. While almost half (44.8%) say they are somewhat or extremely comfortable eating indoors at restaurants, over half (53.3%) say they are somewhat or extremely uncomfortable eating with those outside of their “social bubble.”

This wariness is not surprising, as many of us struggled to balance work and life while working remote and being at home more than ever, and the lines continue to blur. As a result, over half (52.3%) of the MyFitnessPal community say levels of stress are somewhat or much worse due to the pandemic. But, on a positive note, this has had benefits for our health, with just about half (49.4%) saying they now have a somewhat greater or much greater motivation to be healthy.


Overall, it seems we’ve taken the time at home to reevaluate our version of health. For many, it involves cooking and exercising at home, while prioritizing healthier habits. And, if there could ever be a silver lining to this pandemic, it appears many of these healthy habits are here to stay. While we love to support our local restaurants and fitness studios, we are wading into the waters cautiously, with the motivation we need to be the healthiest versions of ourselves so we can get back to “normal” with friends and family as soon as possible.

Make progress every day while you work on mini fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps or learning to track macros. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.

About the Author


MyFitnessPal provides powerful tools that make it easier for anyone to live a healthier life by tracking their meals and physical activity. Make healthy choices and visit the MyFitnessPal blog and download MyFitnessPal (if you haven’t already).


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