This study aimed to determine the effect of the first English national COVID-19 lockdown on physical activity (PA), sitting time, eating behaviours and body mass in an adult cohort. This was further examined to determine whether conforming to recommended guidelines on PA and sedentary behaviour was improved.

Based on an online survey (n=818) incorporating the International Physical Activity Questionnaire Short Form (IPAQ-SF), self-reported body mass change showed that in 32.2% of participants body mass increased, with 39.1% reporting an increase in food intake.
Never exercising at the gym or undertaking an exercise class (online or live), increased by 50.8% during lockdown, with 53.5% changing from exercising frequently to never exercising, suggesting a lack of engagement with online and home workouts. However, outdoor running and cycling >2 times/week increased by 38% during lockdown.

Walking at least 30 minutes continuously on >2 occasions/week increased by 70% during lockdown with minimum 10-minute walks on 7 days per week increasing by 23.0%.

The lockdown had a negative impact on sitting time (>8 hours a day), increasing by 43.6% on weekdays and 121% at weekends. Furthermore, sitting <4 hours/day decreased during lockdown (46.5% and 25.6% for weekdays and weekends, respectively).
Those citing tiredness or lack of time as a barrier to exercise reduced by 16% and 60% respectively from pre to during lockdown.
More of the sedentary group met the Public Health England PA recommendations, however most participants still did not meet the UK Government guidelines for PA.

Improvements in health per additional minutes of physical activity will be proportionately greater in those previously doing <30minutes/week, the area where most improvements were found although, conversely sitting time was greatly increased.

This study may assist in informing whether future lifestyle changes could improve the health of the population.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Hertfordshire
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2021


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