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Strava + Stanford study shows mental, physical & financial effects of COVID-19 on professional athletes

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We all have seen varying personal impacts of COVID-19 on ourselves and the way we live our lives, but Strava partnered up with Stanford University for a study to more concretely summarize the pandemic’s impacts on professional athletes, too. The direct effects are pretty obvious, like the time & effort lost targeting the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that weren’t meant to be, or any number of big races that were cancelled like Paris-Roubaix, or reorganized at the last minute like the UCI World Championships in pretty much every discipline that still got a shot at the rainbow stripes this year. But it obviously goes much deeper than that. 2020 has been a brutal year for everyone so far, and that’s definitely the case for the many athletes who have had to rethink their livelihood and career paths going forward…

Strava & Stanford study finds major COVID impacts for pro athletes

Strava + Stanford professional athlete COVID-19 impacts study, stay active
c. Strava

The Strava + Stanford study finds that “1 in 5 athletes reported difficulty exercising related to mental health, motivation, and COVID-19”. And that, of the 131 verified U.S. professional endurance athletes on their platform, “71% of athletes are worried about receiving financial compensation for their athletic activities” now and in the future. That’s a lot of uncertainty for these cyclists, runners, and triathletes. But not so surprisingly many of them cope just like the rest of us amateurs – by trying to just get out and be more active. These 131 pros “exercised an average of 11 minutes more per day than they did pre-COVID-19”. Is that the best way to fight the corona-blues?

Strava & Stanford COVID impact on pro athletes: Findings

Strava + Stanford professional athlete COVID-19 impacts study, Mental Health impacts

The survey analysis essentially broke down the athlete impacts into three categories: mental health, financial stability, and effects on training. Beyond cutting back on competition and international travel, the findings offer a glimpse into the overall disruption on the athletic community.

Strava + Stanford professional athlete COVID-19 impacts study, Financial Impacts

According to Strava, “while many of the professional athletes surveyed suffered new mental, financial and physical challenges, the study ultimately offers a picture of perseverance.”

Strava + Stanford professional athlete COVID-19 impacts study, Training modifications

Among the many people involved, many international athletes are simply based in the US for training and competition, and ended up isolated from the home country and families. But at the same time, several set new milestones.

Former pro cyclist and now epidemiologist at the CDC, Lauren De Crescenzo set a new Everesting record back in June 2020 during the pandemic and raising money for those suffering most from its effects on their health. And when she set the record, she spurred interest from other pros in various stages of racing & training lockdown, who went on to keep pushing their limits.

Athlete survey methodology

Limited to verified US pros active on the Strava platform only, the analysis together with Stanford University scientists is of course limited in its scope. But there are still plenty of interesting findings worth looking at in more detail.

Responses were analyzed from 131 verified professional endurance athletes practicing cycling, running & triathlon in the United States. Each pro athlete completed a 30-question survey of their impacts, with 114 of them allowing a deeper analysis of their activity data.

Activity was broken down into two periods “Before COVID-19 restrictions” meaning Jan 1 – Mar 14, 2020 and “During COVID-19 restrictions” between Mar 15 – Aug 20. The survey was conducted starting Aug 12 and running until Aug 25, 2020. Of those involved, 44% were runners, 39% cyclists, 11% triathletes, and 6% defined as other endurance pro.

View the full study report at: blog.strava.com/press/stanford-pro-athlete-study/

As for the rest of us…

Strava + Stanford professional athlete COVID-19 impacts study, stay active

The pandemic isn’t over yet, so if you are looking for suggestions for us normal cyclists, Strava put together some thoughts earlier this summer on how to stay active during quarantine and social distancing, together with Dr. Megan Roche.

Find out more at: blog.Strava.com

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