Jago et al; International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 20, 42 (2023) Pub: 27 April 2023
Short and medium-term effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns on child and parent accelerometer-measured physical activity and sedentary time: a natural experiment (springer.com)
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in marked impacts on children’s physical activity, with large reductions in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) reported during lockdowns. Previous evidence showed children’s activity levels were lower and sedentary time higher immediately post-COVID lockdown, while there was little change in parental physical activity. We need to know if these patterns persist.
Active-6 is a natural experiment using repeated cross-sectional data conducted in two waves. Accelerometer data were collected on 393 children aged 10–11 and their parents from 23 schools in Wave 1, and 436 children and parents from 27 schools in Wave 2. These were compared to a pre-COVID-19 comparator group of 1,296 children and parents in the same schools.
After an initial drop, children’s MVPA returned to pre-pandemic levels by July 2022, while sedentary time remained higher. Parents’ MVPA remained higher, especially at weekends. The recovery in physical activity is precarious and potentially susceptible to future COVID-19 outbreaks or changes in provision, and so robust measures to protect against future disruptions are needed. Furthermore, many children are still inactive, with only 41% meeting UK physical activity guidelines, and so there is still a need to increase children’s physical activity.