A new report from Decathlon highlights how exercise habits across Great Britain have changed over the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown restrictions – with people in Scotland the most eager to discover new cycle routes to get their exercise.
In its report The Year of Persevere: How Britain Stayed Active During Lockdown, the sporting goods retailer says that online searches north of the border for local cycle routes and trails grow by a whopping 220 per cent year on year, compared to 138 per cent in England an 94 per cent in Wales.
The top three individual towns or cities recorded as having seen growth in searches for local cycle routes were all in England – with Bournemouth topping the list with an increase of 218 per cent, followed by Watford at 190 per cent and Stockport on 186 per cent.
The boom in sales of bicycles from last spring as lockdown was imposed is also reflected in Decathlon’s research, with online searches for bikes growing by 263 per cent in April and 421 per cent in May.
“An activity that has already boomed in popularity over the last decade or so, and restrictions to travel, the pandemic has seen another surge for cycling,” the company said.
“With less traffic on the roads, and government guidance to avoid public transport, many more people hopped on their bikes and went out for a ride.”
It added: “With restrictions continuing on for the foreseeable future, it’s likely this trend is going to continue even further.”
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There was also huge interest in finding new routes for walks as people looked to get out of the house, says Decathlon, with online searches for “walks near me” and “walking routes” from March to November up by 205 per cent year on year.
As with searches for local cycle routes, the company says that the spike in searches suggests that people were looking to find routes and sights that they were previously unaware of close to where they live, with woodland walks and reservoir walks particularly sought-after.
With gyms closing across England, Wales and Scotland, the report also highlighted the rise of what it terms ‘Working Out From Home’ with searches for home fitness equipment soaring – including exercise bikes, up by 480 per cent in March and a massive 975 per cent in April.
Decathlon UK fitness leader Nicola Barnabo said: “Although our stores were closed for much of 2020, the increased interest in home gym equipment resulted in a massive boost in online retail sales.
“At Decathlon UK we saw sales of home cardio equipment rise by 189 per cent year on year, with online sales of treadmills jumping by an incredible 208 per cent.
“Sales of cross training and bodybuilding equipment, which includes items such as dumbbells and kettlebells, grew by a staggering 338 per cent!”
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I believe the customer is none other than "Welsh 400m legend" Iwan Thomas too.
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