Do Pandemics Lead to More Exercise? An Empirical Investigation Using Online Yoga Exercise Data

52 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2022

See all articles by Yitian (Sky) Liang

Yitian (Sky) Liang

Tsinghua University - School of Economics and Management

Xinlei Chen

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF)

Yuxin Chen

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Rui (Juliet) Zhu

Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business

Date Written: April 18, 2022

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Liang, Yitian (Sky) and Chen, Xinlei and Chen, Yuxin and Zhu, Rui (Juliet), Do Pandemics Lead to More Exercise? An Empirical Investigation Using Online Yoga Exercise Data (April 18, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4086138 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4086138

Yitian (Sky) Liang (Contact Author)

Tsinghua University - School of Economics and Management ( email )

Wei Lun Building 543
Tsinghua University
Beijing, 100084
China

Xinlei Chen

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF) ( email )

Shanghai Jiao Tong University
211 West Huaihai Road
Shanghai, 200030
China

Yuxin Chen

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Henry Kaufman Ctr
44 W 4 St.
New York, NY
United States
212-995-0511 (Phone)
212-995-4006 (Fax)

Rui (Juliet) Zhu

Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business ( email )

Oriental Plaza, Tower E3
One East Chang An Avenue
Beijing, 100738
China

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