The Influence of Joe Wicks on Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Thematic, Location, and Social Network Analysis of X Data.

Publication date: Mar 29, 2024

Social media (SM) was essential in promoting physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among people confined to their homes. Joe Wicks, a fitness coach, became particularly popular on SM during this time, posting daily workouts that millions of people worldwide followed. This study aims to investigate the influence of Joe Wicks on SM and the impact of his content on physical activity levels among the public. We used NodeXL Pro (Social Media Research Foundation) to collect data from X (formerly Twitter) over 54 days (March 23, 2020, to May 15, 2020), corresponding to the strictest lockdowns in the United Kingdom. We collected 290,649 posts, which we analyzed using social network analysis, thematic analysis, time-series analysis, and location analysis. We found that there was significant engagement with content generated by Wicks, including reposts, likes, and comments. The most common types of posts were those that contained images, videos, and text of young people (school-aged children) undertaking physical activity by watching content created by Joe Wicks and posts from schools encouraging pupils to engage with the content. Other shared posts included those that encouraged others to join the fitness classes run by Wicks and those that contained general commentary. We also found that Wicks’ network of influence was extensive and complex. It contained numerous subcommunities and resembled a broadcast network shape. Other influencers added to engagement with Wicks via their networks. Our results show that influencers can create networks of influence that are exhibited in distinctive ways. Our study found that Joe Wicks was a highly influential figure on SM during the COVID-19 pandemic and that his content positively impacted physical activity levels among the public. Our findings suggest that influencers can play an important role in promoting public health and that government officials should consider working with influencers to communicate health messages and promote healthy behaviors. Our study has broader implications beyond the status of fitness influencers. Recognizing the critical role of individuals such as Joe Wicks in terms of health capital should be a critical area of inquiry for governments, public health authorities, and policy makers and mirrors the growing interest in health capital as part of embodied and digital experiences in everyday life.

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Concepts Keywords
Pandemic communication
Twitter content creation
Workouts COVID-19
physical activity
public health
social media
social network
social network analysis


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 Pandemic
disease VO time
disease MESH obesity
disease MESH lifestyles
disease VO Gap
disease VO effectiveness
disease MESH chronic conditions
disease MESH loneliness
disease VO effective
drug DRUGBANK Huperzine B
disease VO frequency
disease IDO process
drug DRUGBANK Stavudine
disease IDO host
disease VO document
disease VO population
drug DRUGBANK Nonoxynol-9
disease MESH sudden cardiac arrest
disease MESH weight loss
disease MESH overweight
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
disease IDO country
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease MESH AIDS
drug DRUGBANK Troleandomycin
disease VO Cpb
disease VO USA
disease MESH emergency
drug DRUGBANK Tretamine
drug DRUGBANK Ademetionine

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