February 9, 2023

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How Active Were We in 2021? Garmin Has the Answer

2021, never did a year have so much pressure to perform and fall flat in so many ways. From the massive Marvel flop Eternals to finding out that Joe Rogan doesn’t actually have any medical training, there was a lot that left us asking what could possibly go wrong next.

While it’s easy to point out 2021’s many shortcomings, a lot of you decided to get out, get moving, and get your mind and body on a path of positivity.

How do we know?  The team from Garmin told us so. 

The company gathered data from its watches, bike computers, and other Garmin Connect devices. Instead of filling our social media with more ads, they decided to share some inspiring data, comparing 2020, to 2021 based on activity using their devices.

They tracked global data and it was a record-breaking year. 

The fact that we are not a planet of superhumans is kind of hard to believe. Whether you swim or snowboard, push the pedals or pound the iron, according to the Garmin Connect data, users logged more activities than ever in almost every category this year. Here is some of the data.


People took 37.13% more walks in 2021. That’s a lot of extra steps. Like Santa sings in the classic Frosty The SnowmanPut one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” You don’t have to pound the pavement to get fit. Taking regular walks can help you maintain a healthy body weight or lose body fat, improve your cardiovascular fitness, increase your energy levels, and more.


Garmin photo

There was a slight increase in running in 2021, but the interesting info. is where people were running. I personally am happy within my basement with Matty Maggiacomo cheering me on in my Peloton app. Garmin users completed 11.58% more trail running activities globally, with South America showing out 37.6% more than last year and Western Europe logging an additional 14.52% trail runs.


With all the bikes people bought in 2020 you would think we would be a nation of Robbie Ventura’s (look it up) Globally outdoor cycling increased in 2021, but again gravel travel really stole the show.  Gravel cycling activities increased by 49.55% globally in 2021, with South Americans leading the pack with an 87.5% increase specific to their region. Eastern Europeans logged 66.13% more gravel cycling activities, and Western Europeans trailed only slightly behind with a 59.86% increase. North America, however, only saw a 28.54% increase.


Breathwork, because that’s a thing. People globally breathed 82.76% more in 2021 than 2020. Totally stealing this from the Garmin site.  What’s breathwork? The breathwork activity profile is found on some Garmin watches and features three different breathing techniques that help increase awareness, reduce stress, improve mental sharpness, boost work performance or prepare for sleep. South America, crushed the breathwork in 2021 performing 125.41% more activities than in 2020. Writers under a deadline to be informative and funny came in a close second.


Garmin photo

Yoga jumped up by 45.55%. After a year that started with grown men painting their faces, adorned in fur, topping their heads with horns, and storming the US Capitol, the world went searching for inner peace, a lot. Europeans appear to be much more into yoga than the rest of us. Eastern European countries logged an 85.02% increase in yoga activities in 2021, Western European countries close behind at 65.57%. In contrast, North Americans only managed 34.39%, but with so many states legalizing cannabis, I mean, come on.  Love to see a watch track that one.


Pilates jumped way up 108.30% more than in 2020. In fact, CAMENA (Central Asia Middle East and North Africa) logged 217.11% more Pilates activities in 2021. With the city of Winnekta, Illinois coming in a close second (see any John Hughes movie to get that joke.  Google John Hughes if you still don’t follow).


As a golfer, I would like to ask the 28.35% of you who decided to take up golf in 2021 to go back to whatever the hell it was you were doing before you slowed things down!  Garmin Connect users across the globe played 28.35% more rounds in 2021.


Garmin photo

Like walking but in the mountains, but you are legally bound to share every part of your hike on social media. The mountains were calling, and hikers took 19.57% more hikes this year and shared their pics 100,000,000,000% more.


According to the data from Garmin Connect South America, users logged 64.03% more swim activities in 2021. Globally, swimmers spent 22.48% more time in the pool this year — including open water and lap swimming.

Winter Sports

Sorry Wisconsin, even Garmin doesn’t make a watch to track ice fishin’, yet.  They were however able to track other winter sports, that you know, require “movement.” Garmin users tracked 39.16% more winter sports activities than in the previous year. With Garmin activity profiles like skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and backcountry skiing.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Interestingly, the growth rate for indoor activities was higher than for outdoor —if you have ever taken a sweaty steady ride with Jess King, that should cover it. Or maybe it was gyms and fitness classes being cancelled because of Covid? Garmin increased the indoor activities by 20.54% in 2021, while outdoor activities increased by 9.52%.

This is just the tip of the Garmin Connect universe.  Garmin smartwatches have so many activity profiles we can’t list them all here, but from boating to bouldering,  hang gliding to HIIT, rowing to rock climbing, you get the idea. Now 2022, get breathing, biking and hiking!  We’re going to kick 2021 in the butt!

By David Wallach

By David Wallach

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