British Columbians Embrace Walking as a Fitness Strategy

Two thirds are walking more than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, as participation in team and racket sports declines.

Vancouver, BC [September 15, 2020] – Most British Columbians are partaking in a specific exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, two thirds of British Columbians (66%) say they are walking for fitness more often now than they did before the pandemic began.

Across the province, about one-in-four residents say they are running or jogging (26%) and cycling (24%) more often now than before COVID-19.

Metro Vancouverites are more likely to say they are running or jogging more now (28%). Residents of Southern BC are cycling (34%) and hiking (30%) significantly more at this stage than their counterparts in other regions.

Just under one-in-five British Columbians are also becoming more avid practitioners of yoga (19%), hiking (18%) and golf (also 18%). Women in the province are practicing yoga at a higher rate (22%) than men (17%). 

There are other fitness activities that have seen a decline in participation. One-in-four British Columbians (24%) are not lifting weights as much as they did before the pandemic—a proportion that rises to 31% among those aged 18-to-34. 

In addition, one-in-five of the province’s residents (21%) are not relying on cardiovascular cross-trainer machines—such as ellipticals, stationary bikes and treadmills—as much as they used to.

“The fear of infection is keeping some British Columbians away from their usual exercise routines, particularly visits to gyms,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “The top two pandemic fitness activities for British Columbians, walking and jogging, do not require much in the way of equipment.” 

In May, a Research Co. survey found that 47% of British Columbians would not go back to the gym without a vaccine against COVID-19, including 54% of women.

About three-in-ten British Columbians (29%) say they are swimming less often now than they did before the pandemic. Smaller proportions of residents say they are not participating as often on water sports (24%), racket sports (19%), team sports (18%) and climbing (16%).

Results are based on an online study conducted from September 3 to September 5, 2020, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.