To reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), national governments implemented measures to limit contact between citizens. This study evaluated changes in physical activity and sitting in response to the first COVID-19 lockdown in England and factors associated with these changes. A cross-sectional online survey-based study collected data from 818 adults between 29 April and 13 May 2020. Participants self-reported demographic information, physical activity and sitting for a ‘typical’ week before and during lockdown. Participants were grouped into low, moderate and high physical activity, and low and high (≥8 hours/day) sitting. Paired samples t-tests compared physical activity (MET-min/week) before and during lockdown. Pearson’s Chi-squared evaluated the proportion of participants in the physical activity and sitting categories. Logistic regression explored associations of demographic and behavioural factors with physical activity and sitting during lockdown. Walking and total physical activity significantly increased during lockdown by 241 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 176, 304) MET-min/week and 302 (CI: 155, 457) MET-min/week, respectively (P < 0.001). There was a 4% decrease in participants engaging in low physical activity and a 4% increase in those engaging in high physical activity from before to during lockdown (P < 0.001). The proportion engaging in high sitting increased from 29% to 41% during lockdown (P < 0.001). Lower education level (odds ratio [OR] = 1.65, P = 0.045) and higher BMI (OR = 1.05, P = 0.020) were associated with increased odds of low physical activity during lockdown, whereas non-White ethnicity (OR = 0.24, P = 0.001) was associated with reduced odds. Younger age was associated with increased odds of high sitting (OR = 2.28, P = 0.008). These findings suggest that physical activity and sitting both increased during lockdown. Demographic and behavioural factors associated with low physical activity and high sitting have been identified that could inform intervention strategies during situations of home confinement.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0271482
Pages (from-to)e0271482
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2022


  • Research Article
  • Medicine and health sciences
  • Research and analysis methods
  • Biology and life sciences
  • People and places
  • Social sciences
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Sitting Position
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Exercise
  • Adult
  • Sedentary Behavior


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