Withings lockdown lowdown study shows people are not gaining weight or slowing down during self-isolation

isolation exercise

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The U.K. sees 8% decline in daily step activity as China returns to pre-lockdown levels

Speculation of ballooning weight, binge drinking and daytime naps during self-isolation are not borne out by facts according to a new global study from Withings. A recognized leader in connected health devices, Withings analyzed the physical activity, weight, sleep patterns, exercise rituals, temperature, nighttime breathing disturbances and heart rate irregularities of millions of users to find general wellbeing is actually holding up well during the COVID-19 crisis.


The Withings Lockdown Lowdown Study compares the behavior of users across the world in countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and China during the various points of their confinement procedures. Its results dispel a number of misconceptions and can be seen in full here. In brief, these myth busters include:

  • Weight – Contrary to popular belief, people are not piling on the pounds. Globally, only 40% of people have put on more than a pound. In the U.K., only 38% have gained more than a pound with the average gain standing at .35 pounds (.16 kilograms).
  • Activity – China (Hubei) and Spain have most stringently complied with stay at home orders registering a decline in daily step count levels of 56% and 41% respectively. The U.K. has seen an 8%drop nationally. In the U.S., New York has seen the biggest decline in average daily step counts (decreased by 22%) with some states like Indiana and Connecticut actually increasing in average daily step rates.
  • Sleep – On average, people in the U.K. are sleeping an average of 15 minutes longer than normal, but are waking up just over 9 minutes later than usual. The French are the nation getting the most extra sleep with an average of 20 minutes more each night.
  • Sports – Activities that require gyms or special equipment have dramatically declined, yet activities like hiking and yoga that allow for social distancing have skyrocketed in popularity.

The study leverages aggregated data from Withings connected scales (Body, Body + and Body Cardio), activity watches (Steel, Steel HR Sport, Move and Move ECG), sleep monitoring device (Sleep) and connected thermometer (Thermo). Digging deeper into the data, the study found:

Weight of the World

Although many fear the self-isolation bulge, Brits have actually gained less weight than many citizens of other countries around the world. On average, those in the U.K. gained just .35 pounds (.16 kilograms), compared to gains of .41 pounds (.189 kilograms) for Germany, .42 pounds (.195 kilograms) for Italy, and .55 pounds (.25 kilograms) for China. Americans and the French have both gained less at .21 pounds (.095 kilograms) and .19 pounds (.084 kilograms) respectively.

Some Think They’re Hot

With fever being a major symptom of COVID-19, people have been rushing to take their temperature. The use of the Withings Thermo tripled in the early weeks of the outbreaks with people taking their temperature multiple times a day. However, despite concerns, those registering fever temperatures have not changed compared to the seasonal norm.

Step or Not to Step

Being cooped up makes getting enough daily steps a challenge. However, Withings found many people aren’t letting self-isolation completely slow them down. In the U.K. people have only decreased their daily steps by an average of 8% during self-isolation compared to 12% globally.


Read More: Over half of locked-down Brits want to spend less time on social media


When looking at the rest of the world, countries with daily step count decreases include the U.S. (decreased 7%), Italy (decreased 28%), Spain (decreased 41%) and France (down 27%). Germany has seen step levels increase by 1%. Hubei, China saw the biggest decline in average daily step levels with a decrease of 56%. The average daily steps of China as a whole decreased by 26%. Encouragingly though, China is now back to its pre-lockdown levels.

Social Distance Sporting

With gyms closed and social gatherings prohibitive, people have found other ways to stay active during these challenging times. Solo sports and activities where social distancing can be maintained have thrived, while team sports and those requiring equipment or courts have decreased in popularity.

Globally, yoga is up 42%, hiking up 34%, indoor cycling has increased by 19% and running has gone up by 18%. Sports on the decline include tennis (down 66%), swimming (down 53%) badminton (down 50%) and indoor running (down by 39%).

Sleep Routine.

During self-isolation people are not catching up much on ZZZ’s nor have they had their sleep impacted by stress. Duration of sleep has increased in all countries with Brits sleeping on average 15 minutes longer a night than before self-isolation. The British on average are only going to bed slightly earlier (8 minutes) than usual and waking up almost 10 minutes later. As days blur together another global trend has emerged. People are no longer varying their sleep patterns depending on whether it is a weekday or weekend, but rather staying consistent with their sleep throughout the entire week.

Withings Sleep Score is a measurement users get each morning on how well they slept overall the previous night. The Sleep Score is out of 100 points and is based on six key inputs including duration of sleep, regularity of sleep and number of nightly interruptions. In the U.K., Withings users have seen their Sleep Score increase by an average of 2.58 points during self-isolation.

Nightly Heart Rate

When people are stressed, sick, drink alcohol at night and are restless, their heart rate increases or can be abnormal while sleeping. This is particularly prevalent during weekends when alcohol consumption is most common. Withings found during self-isolation, people have had fewer sleep heart rate anomalies or irregularities, especially during weekends. In the U.K., night heart rate anomalies have decreased by 44% during the weekends and by 38% during the week. This compares to a global decrease of 45% at weekends and 34% during the week

“During these challenging times, we are all having to change our behaviors and find ways to adapt to the new normal,” said Mathieu Letombe, CEO of Withings. “Our Lockdown Lowdown Study shows that despite geographical differences, people are finding similar ways to adapt and maintain healthy and active lifestyles. Isolation doesn’t have to mean idleation. When staying home, there are plenty of ways to stay active and cognizant of our health, as our users continue to show us.”

For the full survey results visit: www.withings.com


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Matthew Hughes

Editor in Chief at Top Business Tech, digital marketing lecturer, and previously creative director at Aurora Demand. A fan of all things marketing, tech and mindful.

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