The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on daily rhythms

N Luong, I Barnett, T Aledavood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)



The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted daily activity rhythms and life routines with people adjusting to new work schedules, exercise routines, and other everyday life activities. This study examines temporal changes in daily activity rhythms and routines during the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing disproportionate changes among working adult subgroups.

Materials and Methods

In June 2021, we conducted a year-long study to collect high-resolution fitness tracker data and questionnaire responses from 128 working adults. Questionnaire data were analyzed to explore changes in exercise and work routines during the pandemic. We build temporal distributions of daily step counts to quantify their daily movement rhythms, then measure their consistency over time using the inverse of the Earth mover’s distance. Linear mixed-effects models were employed to compare movement rhythm variability among subpopulations.


During the pandemic, our cohort exhibited a shift in exercise routines, with a decrease in nonwalking physical exercises, while walking remained unchanged. Migrants and those living alone had less consistent daily movement rhythms compared to others. Those preferring on-site work maintained more consistent daily movement rhythms. Men and migrants returned to work more quickly after pandemic restriction measures were eased.


Our findings quantitatively show the pandemic’s unequal impact on different subpopulations. This study opens new research avenues to explore why certain groups return to on-site work, exercise levels, or daily movement rhythms more slowly compared to prepandemic times.


Considering the pandemic’s unequal impact on subpopulations, organizations and policymakers should address diverse needs and offer tailored support during future crises.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberocad140
Pages (from-to)1943-1953
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number12
Early online date7 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • COVID-19
  • Daily rhythms
  • Mixed effects models
  • Mobile health


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