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Study: More people walked during the pandemic, but how much depended on their income level

Article in Boston.com about how COVID19 has affected our walking and exercise behaviors.

Study: More people walked during the pandemic, but how much depended on their income level

“I think mental and physical health have been hugely affected, and once again the most vulnerable populations are the ones suffering from this."

Many people took up walking during the height of the pandemic last year, according to a recently released study from MIT.

However, the study shows there’s a correlation between how much someone walked and their income level.

The study, called “Effect of COVID-19 response policies on walking behavior in US cities” showed that people in higher-income areas walked more during the pandemic, while people in lower-income areas – including neighborhoods with more BIPOC and those suffering from long-term illnesses like diabetes and obesity – walked less.

The study used GPS data from smartphones, and then matched the data with that from the U.S. Census to determine income level and other demographic information. Scientists were able to see when people took their walks, why they did, and for how long, according to a press release.

“We found that high-income people started to walk more even after the lockdowns,” Moro told Boston.com in a recent interview. He noted that there’s a “strong correlation” between walking and those with access to facilities. Those living in poorer areas of a city, and those not known to have things like park facilities, walk less.

Author

Esteban Moro

Professor at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and MIT Medialab. Working on Complex Systems, Social Networks and Urban Science.