Strava Year In Sport 2021 charts ongoing trajectory of sports boom

A leading social media platform for over 95 million athletes and fitness fans, Strava has revealed that a sports boom, which began during the pandemic, is showing no signs of slowing. 2021 saw a 38% increase in activity uploads, following 2020’s surge of 1.1 billion uploads.

The data has been extracted from the annual Year in Sport data report, which also revealed that the platform welcomed two million new athletes per month to its global community, who collectively logged over 20 billion miles this year.

The analysis of 1.8 billion activity uploads from Strava’s global community of over 95 million athletes shows lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme weather on athletic activity. The report found that though the gradual return of some in-person events and races in 2021 has been much-anticipated for athletes, demand for community and connection online remain at an all-time high.

In 2021, global activity rates on Strava continued to rise to new record levels, with over 37 million uploads per week, totalling 1.8 billion data uploads over the past 12 months, the company said.

Strava CEO Michael Horvath, commented: “Even as the global athletic community endured another year of pandemic disruptions and restrictions, we saw a persistent desire from athletes to stay connected and keep one another active. Athletes from every country on earth recorded and shared their runs, bike rides and lunchtime walks. And in turn, the community encouraged one another by doling out 9.6 billion kudos. Every effort counts on Strava, and our team is thrilled to provide a platform for anyone who sweats to connect with their peers, find new places to be active, set goals for themselves, create clubs and challenge their friends. Strava is committed to creating positive impact in the areas that matter to us and our athletes: climate change, environmental racism and equity & inclusion in sport,” adds Horvath.

Courtesy of Strava

Notable findings from the 2021 Year in Sport include:

The pandemic-era sports boom isn’t slowing. Strava upload rates for all sports increased significantly, along with a notable surge in personal bests.

  • More than 1.8 billion activities were uploaded to Strava over the last 12 months.
  • A 38% YoY increase in activities in 2021 builds on 2020’s sport’s surge.
  • All sport types saw huge growth, with walking (2.0x) and hiking (1.7x) showing the strongest continued YoY growth in 2021 alongside yoga and other indoor workouts.
  • In 2020, walking grew by 3.0x, and hiking grew by 1.9x YoY.
  • Among runners who joined Strava in 2020, almost twice as many set new personal bests in 2021 (5K, half marathon, etc.) this year compared to last year.

Starting the year off with a goal makes a difference. One of the best ways to stay motivated is to tackle a goal with others.

  • Athletes who set a goal for the New Year were 2 hours more active in January than those who didn’t.
  • Half of all Group Challenge participants uploaded more activities in the 30 days after starting a challenge than in the 30 days prior.
  • Since its launch in May, Strava’s revamped Maps tab has generated over 120 million suggested routes for cyclists, runners, and walkers to explore.
  • Total club members across Strava grew by 37% on top of a large increase from last year.
  • Over 189,000 new Clubs were created on Strava this year.

Walking is more popular now than ever, and women in particular realise the value.

  • More people than ever are uploading walks to Strava. This rise in popularity spans all age groups, genders and regions.
  • Female runners and cyclists are 2.4x as likely to upload walks as males.
  • Athletes who regularly upload walks record 2.5 to 4 hours per week.
  • Cyclists and runners who walk are 16% more likely to still be active in six months than athletes who don’t.

Extreme weather and hazardous air quality impact athlete behaviour around the globe.

  • During the Texas freeze and power crisis in February, there was a 57% decrease in outdoor activities.
  • During the heatwave in Oregon over the summer, outdoor activities dipped 23%.
  • During the snowstorm in Madrid in January and the flooding in Nagano in August, indoor activities increased 55% and 56% respectively.

*Strava’s Year In Sport 2021 analyses public activity uploads on Strava between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. Private activities, and activities from athletes who have opted out of any Strava features are excluded from aggregated insights.

Download the full YIS 2021 report here.

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Photo – top of page – Dulcey Lima / Unsplash

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