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Amid a pandemic, seniors are exercising more than ever, study finds

While many age groups have seen a big decline in exercise, seniors are more active than ever

A new study from the Journal of Medical Internet Research has found that while the exercise habits of young to middle-aged people are on the decline, seniors are ramping up their activity during the pandemic. The study looked at the habits of more than 5,300 exercise tracking app users who had been using the app since before the pandemic began, so they could determine whether there was a change in activity. Among those users, there were some surprising differences.

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The first week was the worst

The study found that 63 per cent of people reduced their physical activity during the first week of the pandemic. 

The 40-and-under crowd has seen the biggest change

The group that saw the biggest downward swing was the under-40 crowd, with younger people also responsible for the most activity of anyone ahead of the pandemic, and the least as lockdown restrictions eased. People aged 24-35 saw the biggest rise and fall between January 22 and June 17, with many users in this age bracket removing exercise from their schedule completely. 

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This can likely be attributed to the high-stress situations that many young families were experiencing in their home life. With young children, jobs and limited access to child care, exercise appears to have fallen to the wayside. 

Seniors’ habits have spiked

Pre-pandemic, seniors accounted for the least number of exercising minutes per week of any group, and since the pandemic began, people in the 65-plus category top the charts. In June, seniors were averaging 100 more minutes of activity than the next cohort. Researchers also added that 50 per cent of their subjects over 65 were actually over 70. 

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How to get back in the groove

After a few months of inactivity, getting back into it can be tough. For runners, starting small is your best bet. Make attainable goals for yourself. Even going for a short walk-run is better than nothing. Heck, even the best runners in the world return to training with a walk-run program following an injury, so there’s no shame in getting back to basics. 

RELATED: The 5 stages of returning to running