A Year in Review: 2021 Garmin Health and Fitness Data Insights

A Year in Review: 2021 Garmin Health and Fitness Data Insights

As impossible as it may seem, 2021 has drawn to a close — and what a ride it’s been. Depending on where you live, lockdowns and mask mandates came and went — and for some of you, came back again. Pharmaceutical companies raced each other to the finish line with COVID-19 vaccines, and now booster shots are becoming more widely available. That one guy from high school who still, for some reason, pops up on your social media feeds got very, very into giving everyone unsolicited cryptocurrency advice.

So yeah, it’s been a lot. And one might reasonably assume that with all you’ve dealt with this year, you’ve kept the status quo on your health and fitness regimen. But thanks to Garmin Connect™, the interactive tool used by millions of fitness lovers worldwide to track, analyze and share fitness activities, we can see that, once again, Garmin users have had a record-breaking year.

The 2021 Garmin Connect data confirms what we already suspected: Garmin users don’t give up. In the face of change and uncertainty, during seasons of hope and of fear, you roll with the punches — and you throw a few of your own. Whether you swim or snowboard, push the pedals or pound the iron, Garmin Connect users logged more activities than ever in almost every category this year. Here are just a few of the ways you’ve grown in your endless pursuit to beat yesterday.


You took 37.13% more walks this year. That’s a lot of extra steps. Taking regular walks can help you maintain a healthy body weight or lose body fat, improve your cardiovascular fitness, increase your energy levels and more. It’s also an excellent form of self-care. Legally Blonde said it best: Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make people happy.  


The 2021 data shows a slight uptick in running activities, but the big running story is how often you took to the trails. Garmin users completed 11.58% more trail running activities globally, with South America showing out 37.6% more than last year and Western Europe logging an additional 14.52% trail runs. New to the running watch scene this year was the Garmin Forerunner® 945 LTE, designed specifically to allow you to leave your phone at home without sacrificing peace of mind while you run, ride or swim. 


Outdoor cycling nudged up globally in 2021, but gravel travel really stole the show.  Gravel cycling activities increased by 49.55% globally in 2021, with South Americans leading the pack with an 87.5% increase specific to their region. Eastern Europeans logged 66.13% more gravel cycling activities, and Western Europeans trailed only slightly behind with a 59.86% increase. North America, however, only saw a 28.54% uptick – better get to pedaling in 2022, guys. You can train for your next gravel race no matter the weather with a Tacx trainer, complete with an exclusive Road Feel Feature to bring the beaten path indoors.


Garmin Connect users logged 82.76% more breathwork activities in 2021 than 2020. At this point, you may be asking: What’s breathwork? The breathwork activity profile is found on some Garmin watches and features three different breathing techniques that help increase awareness, reduce stress, improve mental sharpness, boost work performance or prepare for sleep. South America, in particular, stepped up their breathwork game, with the continent performing 125.41% more activities than in 2020. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out …


Yoga activities increased by 45.55%. We’re here for it. Cat-cowing your way to some inner peace is a much better use of your time than scrolling through the political memes your second cousin-once-removed keeps posting on Facebook — or are we supposed to call it Meta now? An interesting thing to note: Europeans appear to be much more regular yogis than the rest of us. Eastern European countries logged an 85.02% increase in yoga activities in 2021, with Western European countries close behind at 65.57%. In contrast, North Americans only managed 34.39% more activities than the year before.


Man, you guys really liked your Pilates this year — 108.30% more than last year, to be exact. We hope some of you were taking advantage of the animated, on-screen workouts offered on the Venu® 2 and Venu® 2S. With easy-to-follow workouts preloaded on the watch and more available in the Garmin Connect app, it’s easy to see why Pilates was such a big hit. In fact, CAMENA (Central Asia Middle East and North Africa) logged 217.11% more Pilates activities in 2021. Now that’s impressive.


It looks like that set of clubs you bought out of boredom in 2020 paid off — people are still flocking to the golf course in droves. Garmin Connect users across the globe played 28.35% more rounds in 2021. If you still don’t feel like you’ve perfected your swing, though, we’ll let you in on a little secret: The Approach® R10 tracks more than a dozen golf metrics and allows you to view your shots on a detailed dispersion chart1. You can also play virtual rounds without ever leaving the house. 


The mountains were calling, and you definitely went. You took 19.57% more hikes this year. If you’re new to hiking — or maybe even if you’re an old pro who’s gotten a bit too comfortable — check out these blog posts on tips for backpacking beginners and a backpacker’s essential gear list. It’s critical to be prepared when heading off into the wilderness on your own — and maybe grab an inReach® satellite communicator2 just in case.


Globally, you spent 22.48% more time in the pool this year — including swimming, open water swimming and lap swimming activity types — but no one more so than South America, whose Garmin Connect users logged 64.03% more swim activities in 2021. CAMENA was runner-up with a 44.96% increase over 2020, followed closely by Central America with a 43.98% growth rate. We bet those lap times are thriving as a result.

Winter Sports

When the temperatures dipped below freezing, you all didn’t miss a beat. Garmin users tracked 39.16% more winter sports activities than in the previous year. With Garmin activity profiles like skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing and backcountry skiing, you can get creative when you hit the slopes. If you’re a fēnix® user, you even have access to more than 2,000 preloaded ski resort maps that show the run names and the level of difficulty. Last one to the bottom’s a rotten egg.

Indoor vs. Outdoor

Interestingly, the growth rate for indoor activities was higher than for outdoor — perhaps you really missed those fitness classes that lockdowns canceled in 2020? Garmin users kicked up the indoor activities by 20.54% this year, while outdoor activities increased by 9.52%. If you’re part of the group that likes to sweat indoors, be sure to check out our free, easy-to-follow workouts in Garmin Connect.

Didn’t see your preferred activity listed above? Garmin smartwatches have so many activity profiles we can’t list them all here, but from boating to bouldering, from hang gliding to HIIT, from rowing to rock climbing, you exceeded expectations in all categories. At Garmin we take a lot of pride in helping you explore your passions — be that by land, sea or air — and we hope you do as well. Here’s to breaking new records in 2022!

1When paired with a compatible smartphone downloaded with the Garmin Golf™ app

2Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communication devices. It is the responsibility of the user to know and follow all applicable laws in the jurisdictions where the device is intended to be used.