Behavior Change, Healthcare | By | 04/16/20 | 3 Minute Read

The Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Mobility

To help slow the spread of COVID-19, people all around the world are being required to practice social distancing and stay-at-home. As people and families made the shift from going to the office, school, and gym to home-bound activities, Fitbit wanted to understand how these guidelines in major cities were affecting mobility for the population. Were people following the distancing mandates, and who was most impacted by the lifestyle changes?

Because activities such as commuting, shopping, exercising, and day-to-day lifestyle activities rack up steps, Fitbit used anonymous, aggregated steps data gathered from Fitbit devices as the metric for quantifying changes in mobility. Based on this aggregated step data, Fitbit found that as cities issued state of emergency declarations, and again as stay-at-home was ordered, mobility took a sharp decline, suggesting that Fitbit users generally responded to these policies quickly.

Data Tells the Story

Fitbit data scientists developed the Change in Mobility Index, to measure how daily steps of users in a particular location and age group compared to the expected step count from the same group, based on data from the same time last year. 

The Fitbit Change in Mobility Index provides several interesting takeaways:

  • Young people seemed to take the orders seriously. In major cities in the US and around the world, stay-at-home orders had the greatest impact on activity for users aged 18 to 29, with their steps down between 16 percent to 23 percent.
  • Users 65+ saw the lowest impact on their mobility, down approximately four percent to 10 percent.
  • Young people looked to be off to an early start sheltering-in-place. Timing is an important data point. In 88 percent of US cities, users aged 18 to 29 reduced their activity at least one day before other age groups. For example, in San Francisco the younger age group had a steep decline on March 14, two days ahead of the city’s shelter-in-place announcement. This drop happened around the time that large companies asked their employees to work from home, resulting in less movement, likely because of fewer people commuting.
  • Activity levels in New York City started to decline in early March. While the decline was prior to any policy announcements, it was in line with the timing of school closings. After the mandate in NYC, activity levels there had a much sharper decline than levels in the San Francisco population. This is likely due to the high population density in New York City, which makes social distancing difficult. 

Read the full article here.

The Rise of the Home Workout

Social distancing and stay-at-home orders means employees are moving less. To stay healthy and balanced, your employees need to find new ways to workout and be well at home, at a time most convenient for them.

And we’re here to help! Employees can stay active using Fitbit Premium. With Premium, your employees can access 150+ smart, adaptive workouts and choose from 15+ different trainers. Activities run the gamut from cardio, dance, kickboxing, barre3, and HIIT to easier go-to activities such as yoga, strength conditioning, and mindfulness workouts.

FEATURED guidebook

Learn More

Fitbit Health Solutions is now offering Premium for free through July 1, 2020. Contact us to learn more.





Social connections can help improve your employees’ health and happiness, so times like these may be especially challenging. This article from EBN discusses how loneliness can decrease employee productivity. https://t.co/wuw0HHdyaX

Limeade and Fitbit Health Solutions invite you to join them for a discussion about how to maintain a culture of health amid the complexities of today's working environment. Join us on Wednesday, May 27th at 10am PST. https://t.co/w9cGG2EdMe