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Study finds people taking fewer steps during coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Shutdown has had major affect on people's activity, researchers say

DETROIT – Researchers said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a major affect on activity, as people are taking significantly fewer steps.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, and it looked at fitness tracker data from around the world and how many steps people have been taking. The numbers demonstrate a disturbing trend.

Looking at more than 19 million daily step count measurements in more than 455,000 users in 187 countries, researchers found that within 10 days of the pandemic being declared, there was a 6% decrease in steps taken.

By 30 days into the pandemic, people were taking 27% fewer steps, the study found.

The authors noted significant variation across different countries. For example, Italy took only five days to drop to a midpoint of 15%, while the same drop didn’t happen in the United States until the 15th day. It didn’t happen in Japan until the 24th day.

Another study, published in the journal The Lancet, looked at mobile phone location data in the 25 most affected counties in the U.S. from Jan. 24 to April 17. It found people reduced their movement by 35%-63% in different areas, and the decreased movement preceded a decrease in new infections by nine to 12 days.

In Southeast Michigan, by April 17, people in Wayne County had cut their trips to 46% of baseline and people in Oakland County had dropped to 39%.

Two stamp-sized sensors are being developed to monitor the symptoms and vitals of people with the coronavirus, measuring factors such as temperature, pulse and oxygen levels.

One sensor goes on a finger while the other sits at the base of the throat to pick up vibratory signatures such as breathing, coughing and swallowing.

Another study found passive stretching -- having someone else stretch muscles such as the calves -- can help improve blood flow and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s not as effective as getting up and walking, but it’s an option to consider.


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