People Are Walking Less Post-COVID

COVID-19 has changed the way we live and resulted in increased physical activity in the earlier days of the pandemic. Walking became a trend in the Spring of 2020, as it was a free and safe way to exercise. Unfortunately, studies are already showing that the initial increase in physical activity has resulted in levels lower than pre-Covid-19.

According to a new report by…

Although COVID-19 response measures differed between metropolitan areas, in most of the US, social distancing started after the declaration of a national emergency on March 13, 2020 and the schools and nonessential business closings during the following week. As we can see in Fig. 1, that translated into a substantial decrease of ~70% in the number of walks (bouts) and 50% in the average distance walked in all metropolitan areas. Since mid-April 2020, walking steadily increased although even after resuming some commercial and business activities, walking was still around 18% below the pre-pandemic level.


Walking decreased considerably in Miami (−33.7%), Los Angeles (−33.3%), New York (−25.1%), and San Francisco (−24.8%), whereas in Chicago (+9.7%), Seattle (−2.2%), and Boston (−3.1%) the distance walked was even slightly higher or similar than before the pandemic. This could be also the reflection of much better weather conditions, particularly in places like Chicago, Seattle, or Boston.”

Fig. 1: Decrease in walking behavior during the pandemic. 
figure 1

Walking is an incredibly beneficial form of exercise, and one that we recommend to our patients often.

Did you know? Walking an extra 20 minutes daily will burn seven pounds of body fat per year! 

If you’re just starting out, instead of increasing drastically from your baseline, try to increase in small increments.

For example, if you take 3,000 steps per day, the next day go out for 5,000, then 7,000, then continually increase. You can take this same principle and apply it to how long you are walking for time or for distance.

This way your tissues can build tolerance to the increasing stress you are putting on your body rather than sustaining overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinopathy, and shin splints.

There are plenty of exercises that can also prepare your feet, legs, and body for more activity like walking, running, and doing virtual workout classes. Foot health is one of the most neglected aspects of fitness and wellness – there are numerous activities and specific exercises to help take care of your foundation (FEET!)

If you would like more advice about how to specifically use the principles of progressive overload for walking, running, or any other activities let us know and schedule a virtual session with one of our therapists.

Call us at 619-260-0750 or email us at to discuss your care.