Physical activity and active recreation before and during COVID-19: The Our Life at Home study


Objectives: To examine the effects of COVID-19 related ‘lockdown restrictions’ on Australian’s (5-75 years) physical activity recommendation achievement and active recreation participation.

Design: Cross-sectional online survey with self and proxy-report items (where the participant was a parent).

Methods: Adults (n = 1360) and adolescents (n = 1292) reported the frequency they performed 30- or 60-min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), muscle-strengthening exercises, and participation in 11 active recreation behaviours in February 2020 (pre-COVID-19) and in April/May (during lockdown restrictions). Parents also proxy-reported activity for their child (n = 147, 5-12 years). Mixed effects logistic regressions or a logistic regression (with robust sandwich estimation for variance) assessed recall differences pre- and during lockdown, and interaction by sex.

Results: Compared to February, in April/May children were less likely to meet MVPA recommendations (OR = 0.27, 95%CI = 0.12-0.64); adolescents males, but not females, were less likely to meet MVPA (OR = 0.71, 95%CI 0.43, 1.17) and both recommendations (OR = 0.12, 95%CI = 0.02, 0.79); and adults were more likely to meet MVPA (OR = 1.26, 95%CI = 1.01, 1.57) but less likely to meet muscle-strengthening exercise recommendations (OR = 0.76, 9%CI = 0.65, 0.89). Across age groups more participants reported walking, muscle strengthening exercises at home, and yoga/Pilates/stretching at home, and fewer performed informal sport practice and play, and recreational activities.

Conclusions: Lockdown restrictions had different effects on physical activity and active recreation among age groups and by sex. Physical activity promotion strategies that target children and adolescents, at home physical activity options, active neighbourhoods, and (re)engagement in informal sport and recreational activities post-COVID-19 are critical for (re)engaging Australians in health-enhancing behaviours.

Research Authors:

Lauren Arundell Jo Salmon Anna Timperio Shannon Sahlqvist Riaz Uddin Jenny Veitch Nicola D Ridgers Helen Brown Kate Parker 

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