People across Ireland have relied heavily on broadband to support their physical and mental health while staying at home during the ongoing Covid-19 public health crisis – with the majority saying they have been using the internet more regularly for health related information and support, research shows.
The research was commissioned by Virgin Media Ireland and conducted independently by Amárach Research, surveying 2,000 people aged 18 and upwards in mid-July across all regions of the country.
The findings indicate that people have been concerned for both their physical and mental health during the crisis.
While 80 per cent said their physical health remained good during this time, approximately 4 in 10 people felt that their mental health ranged from poor to middling during the current pandemic and recent lockdown. Many used broadband and online services for advice, information and support during this time.
The Virgin Media Ireland research found a strong correlation among those who said that both their physical and mental health had stayed resilient during the crisis to date, providing a pointer to the importance of exercise and good physical health as a contributory factor in boosting mental health.
Virgin Media found that people are intent on staying fit, no matter the circumstances with nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) taking part in live, online fitness and training classes more often then they usually would and 30 per cent saying this will continue in the future.
Half of all respondents said they had accessed a mix of videos, podcasts, blogs and social media specifically to support their wellbeing during the lockdown, with 40 per cent saying they would continue to watch online videos and listen to podcasts about diet, health and fitness.
Some 60 per cent said they also participated more often in online competitions against family, friends and colleagues regarding their health, using Internet connected devices (like Fitbit or others) to count steps walked and other fitness challenges, with 30 per cent saying this will continue.
The research indicates a widespread use of broadband to avail of online services and supports, and this is borne out by metrics released by Virgin Media Ireland which show a 40 per cent increase in data usage across its high speed residential broadband network during the period from March to June inclusive (2020).
These results also correlate with Virgin Media Ireland’s own information highlighting an increase in overall connected devices in their customers’ homes with the average now over 10 devices per household.
Paul Higgins, Vice-President, Virgin Media Ireland said, “Our homes have become schools, universities, offices, cinemas and according to this research – gyms and fitness studios. The current situation is affecting people in different ways and thankfully our broadband is not only keeping people connected but it’s playing a key part in supporting ongoing health and wellbeing.
“Virgin Media have been ideally placed to manage the considerable increases in broadband usage given that our customers enjoy access to Ireland’s fastest broadband network. Seeing data usage increase by 40 per cent shows our customers are using their service more than ever before but what’s fascinating is what people are using it for.
“There has been a surge in video usage across the Virgin Media network with upstream traffic increasing by 73 per cent. With a 52 per cent increase in connected devices we’re seeing more people in the home using the internet for more activities including fitness wearables. The research shows more people engaging with live fitness classes taking place over zoom and other platforms which is also driving some of this increase.
“Virgin Media are incredibly proud to support these increases in our customers’ data usage, and how our broadband is being used more and more for many different aspects of life. We’ve designed our network to cope with the different patterns of usage our customers need to live their lives in these new and different circumstances. Broadband and connectivity have a key role to play in the country’s ongoing renewal, recovery and future continuing success and we’ll continue to help customers in making connections that really matter to them.”