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Too Hot to Trot: Temperature’s Effect on Exercise

Does the weather affect how active you are? This question has been the subject of several studies, though small sample sizes may cloud the results.With hundreds of thousands of UP wearers logging their steps around the world, we at Jawbone can help to answer these questions. Wind, precipitation and temperature can be studied separately, but we chose to look at temperature. Comparing the aggregate activity data of UP wearers to the weather dataset published by the National Climatic Data Center, we are able to see how the average number of steps UP users take is impacted by the temperature.

The patterns we found are fascinating:

  • There is an ideal temperature range for physical activity. People move more when the temperature is comfortable. Activity reaches its peak in the range of the low sixties to high seventies (°F).
  • Temperature matters more when you have a choice. Weekdays and weekends look very different.

Because weekends tend to be less routine than weekdays, people have the power of choice. And when deciding whether to go for a walk or a run, or watch TV,  it’s clear that the weather outside affects this choice. While users log 5% more steps at 70°F than at 40°F on weekdays, steps increase by 15% on the weekends.

The charts below show how the activity (as measured by steps) during a particular hour of day changes with temperature. Every horizontal band corresponds to one hour of day. The darker the color of a rectangle representing an hour of day, more steps UP users take during that hour of day at that temperature.
Methodology The analysis was done on one year (May 2013 – May 2014) of activity data of hundreds of thousands of UP wearers in the Continental US. Only hours with daylight were compared.

About The Author

Eugene Mandel

Eugene is on the Data Science team at Jawbone where he makes data talk. He is also into Improv, CrossFit and cats. Follow him @eugmandel