Do We Run More On Christmas?

And what about New Year’s? Is the pattern the same around the world?

The threat of abundance in the form of a good meal is enough to send thousands of us out for a pre-emptive 5-K (or 10-K or whatever). So where does Christmas stack up in the must-run-on-this-holiday hierarchy? And do runners in Australia behave the same on that day as runners in say, France or the US? What about New Year’s Day–do runners the world over start the year off with a bang, or a rest day?

We asked our partners at RunKeeper to supply us with data from the United States, Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Japan, Mexico, and Sweden for both holidays.

Turns out, the Swedes are the only ones that make a serious effort to ditch the merry and bright and hit the road on Christmas Day. [To figure this out, we established a baseline, an expected value based on how many runners tend to run on a given day in a particular week of the year. Then, we calculated an actual value that reflects the impact of a holiday falling on that particular day in the week. The difference between the two reflects the real impact of the holiday.]

So in the chart below, you’ll see that Swedes are 2.6 percent more likely to run on December 25 than they are on a typical late-December day. The rest of us are less likely to run on that particular day. So full are we, perhaps, of comfort and joy and egg nog.

Christmas run graph

You would think that New Year’s Day would see a bump in activity, what with all the resolution making, and “run more” being a popular promise. But according to the numbers, runners across the globe get a jump on that good intention on December 31st, then kind of lay low (presumably in some diminished state) when January 1 actually rolls around. Except for the Japanese. They do not lay low:

Month to month run comparison by countries

Please note: the data above reflects three-year averages of runs recorded by RunKeeper users, and do not reflect the impact of weather. A particularly beautiful or bad day will skew the results.


This data was provided through a collaboration with RunKeeper, a mobile fitness app that helps more than 37 million people around the world track their workouts, set fitness goals, and understand their progress over time.

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