Do Pandemics Lead to More Exercise? An Empirical Investigation Using Online Yoga Exercise Data
52 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2022
Date Written: April 18, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a boom for online fitness service. While people may attribute this to the lockdown and social restriction policies, psychology literature suggests that people could simply be exercising more to cope with the stress induced by the pandemic. In this article, we test this hypothesis by examining users’ online yoga exercise before and after the pandemic outbreak. We find that the pandemic indeed led to a discontinuous surge in exercising hours, after controlling for the lockdown and restriction policies during the pandemic. This surge is also sustainable over time. In addition, users positively react to real-time pandemic variation by adjusting their activity levels. Together, the pandemic effects account for more than one-third of the observed activities on average. In addition to exercise activity, users show behavior adjustments in social interactions and spending, which is consistent with the literature on stress.
Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; exercise
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