Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviours from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: a systematic review.

BMJ open sport & exercise medicine. 2021;7(1):e000960
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COVID-19 has led several countries to enforce social distancing in order to reduce the rate of transmission, commonly called ‘lockdown’. These lockdowns have impacted people’s work, education, travel and recreation, and subsequent levels of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviours (SB). The aim of this study was to review and compare the changes in all reported PA and SB behaviours during versus before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, stratifying between adults and children, and special populations. This study is a systemic review of 66 studies which yielded a total of 86981 participants with an age range between 13 and 86 years. Results demonstrated that the majority of studies found that PA declined and SB increased during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, regardless of the subpopulation. In healthy adults and children, PA during lockdown decreased compared with pre-lockdown, despite various government organisations and health or exercise practitioners providing guidance on how to stay active during the pandemic and in self-quarantine. Authors conclude that the public health officials should promote ways of increasing PA and reducing SB should further lockdowns occur, especially in populations with medical conditions that are improved by PA.


OBJECTIVE In March 2020, several countries banned unnecessary outdoor activities during COVID-19, commonly called 'lockdowns. These lockdowns have the potential to impact associated levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Given the numerous health outcomes associated with physical activity and sedentary behaviour, the aim of this review was to summarise literature that investigated differences in physical activity and sedentary behaviour before vs during the COVID-19 lockdown. DESIGN DATA SOURCES AND ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA Electronic databases were searched from November 2019 to October 2020 using terms and synonyms relating to physical activity, sedentary behaviour and COVID-19. The coprimary outcomes were changes in physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour captured via device-based measures or self-report tools. Risk of bias was measured using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. RESULTS Sixty six articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review (total n=86 981). Changes in physical activity were reported in 64 studies, with the majority of studies reporting decreases in physical activity and increases in sedentary behaviours during their respective lockdowns across several populations, including children and patients with a variety of medical conditions. CONCLUSION Given the numerous physical and mental benefits of increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behaviour, public health strategies should include the creation and implementation of interventions that promote safe physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour should other lockdowns occur.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Structural
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Lockdown
Environmental Inputs : Physical exercise ; Mind and spirit
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Systematic Review