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Exercise and sleep habits in Finland during COVID-19 epidemic


The Polar Research Center carried out an analysis on Polar customer data on activity, sports training and sleep behaviors in Finnish customers during the COVID-19 restrictions. The analysis compared data from March 2019 to data from March 2020 on over 200 000 customers. Data included 6 million activity measurements, 2,5 million training sessions and 3 million nights. Most of the users wore a wrist unit and 20% used the Polar Beat app. The data consists of men and women, age 10-80+-years (mean age 43 years). The mean wear time of the wrist unit was 19 hours a day and an increase of 35 mins was seen in March 2019 compared to March 2020. In the analysis of training data, it appeared that customers trained 4 times weekly, 65 min per session. Most frequent training days were Sunday and Tuesday and the most popular training times were at 6 pm during weekdays and at 11 am during weekends. Other key findings in comparing these two periods were as follows:

  • active time (over 3,5 METs) increased 33 min/day
  • inactive time decreased by 21 min/day
  • daily active steps increased by 400 steps
  • sleep time increased by 10 min/day
  • outdoor sports (like walking and jogging) increased significantly and indoor sports decreased dramatically (gym, swimming)

This data shows that despite COVID-19 epidemic Finns stay active and even increased their activity.  “Stay and work at home” saved time from daily travelling and this was used for activity and sleep.  Closing the indoor sports centers resulted in a shift from indoor to outdoor training. The increase in customers and wear time may indicate also that Polar customers got more interested in their personal wellbeing.

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