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

Ahmed, Wasim; Aiyenitaju, Opeoluwa; Chadwick, Simon; Hardey, Mariann; Fenton, Alex


Opeoluwa Aiyenitaju

Simon Chadwick

Mariann Hardey

Alex Fenton


Background: 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.
Objective: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: 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.


Ahmed, W., Aiyenitaju, O., Chadwick, S., Hardey, M., & Fenton, A. (2024). The Influence of Joe Wicks on Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Thematic, Location, and Social Network Analysis of X Data. Journal of medical Internet research, 26, Article e49921.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 6, 2024
Online Publication Date Mar 29, 2024
Publication Date Jan 1, 2024
Deposit Date Apr 2, 2024
Publicly Available Date Apr 2, 2024
Journal Journal of Medical Internet Research
Publisher Journal of Medical Internet Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Article Number e49921
Keywords Social media; Social network analysis; COVID-19; Influencers; Public health; Social network; Physical activity; Promotion; Fitness; Exercise; Workout; Twitter; Content creation; Communication
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Copyright Statement
©Wasim Ahmed, Opeoluwa Aiyenitaju, Simon Chadwick, Mariann Hardey, Alex Fenton. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 29.03.2024. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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