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A Pandemic within the Pandemic? Physical Activity Levels Substantially Decreased in Countries Affected by COVID-19

Department of Sports Medicine, Goethe University Frankfurt, 60488 Frankfurt, Germany
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA
Inter-University Laboratory of Human Movement Science, University Jean Monnet, 42000 Saint Etienne, France
Department of Clinical and Exercise Physiology, Sports Medicine Unity, Faculty of Medicine, University Hospital of Saint-Etienne, 42055 Saint-Etienne, France
Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, 00135 Rome, Italy
ImFine Research Group, Department of Health and Human Performance, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Exercise Is Medicine, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Sciences of Physical Activitiy, Sports and Health School, University of Santiago of Chile (USACH), Santiago 9170020, Chile
Fundación Instituto Superior de Ciencias de la Salud, Buenos Aires 1885, Argentina
Changi General Hospital, Singapore 529889, Singapore
Basic Medical Sciences Department, Durban University of Technology, Durban 4001, South Africa
MOVE-IT Research Group, Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, University of Cádiz, 11519 Cádiz, Spain
Institute of Human Movement Science, Sport and Health, University of Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria
Department of Orthopedics, University Children’s Hospital Basel, University of Basel, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4067, Australia
Faculty of Mechanical and Process Engineering, Offenburg University of Applied Sciences, 77652 Offenburg, Germany
Masters and Doctoral Programs in Physical Therapy, Universidade Cidade de São Paulo (UNICID), Sao Paulo 03071-000, Brazil
Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Amsterdam Collaboration on Health & Safety in Sports, Department of Public and Occupational Health, Amsterdam Movement Sciences, Amsterdam UMC, University Medical Centers-Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1105 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Institute of Interdisciplinary Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Medical School Hamburg, 20457 Hamburg, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2235;
Received: 15 January 2021 / Revised: 29 January 2021 / Accepted: 19 February 2021 / Published: 24 February 2021
Governments have restricted public life during the COVID-19 pandemic, inter alia closing sports facilities and gyms. As regular exercise is essential for health, this study examined the effect of pandemic-related confinements on physical activity (PA) levels. A multinational survey was performed in 14 countries. Times spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) as well as in vigorous physical activity only (VPA) were assessed using the Nordic Physical Activity Questionnaire (short form). Data were obtained for leisure and occupational PA pre- and during restrictions. Compliance with PA guidelines was calculated based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). In total, n = 13,503 respondents (39 ± 15 years, 59% females) were surveyed. Compared to pre-restrictions, overall self-reported PA declined by 41% (MVPA) and 42.2% (VPA). Reductions were higher for occupational vs. leisure time, young and old vs. middle-aged persons, previously more active vs. less active individuals, but similar between men and women. Compared to pre-pandemic, compliance with WHO guidelines decreased from 80.9% (95% CI: 80.3–81.7) to 62.5% (95% CI: 61.6–63.3). Results suggest PA levels have substantially decreased globally during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key stakeholders should consider strategies to mitigate loss in PA in order to preserve health during the pandemic. View Full-Text
Keywords: coronavirus; health; exercise; guidelines coronavirus; health; exercise; guidelines
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wilke, J.; Mohr, L.; Tenforde, A.S.; Edouard, P.; Fossati, C.; González-Gross, M.; Sánchez Ramírez, C.; Laiño, F.; Tan, B.; Pillay, J.D.; Pigozzi, F.; Jimenez-Pavon, D.; Novak, B.; Jaunig, J.; Zhang, M.; van Poppel, M.; Heidt, C.; Willwacher, S.; Yuki, G.; Lieberman, D.E.; Vogt, L.; Verhagen, E.; Hespanhol, L.; Hollander, K. A Pandemic within the Pandemic? Physical Activity Levels Substantially Decreased in Countries Affected by COVID-19. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 2235.

AMA Style

Wilke J, Mohr L, Tenforde AS, Edouard P, Fossati C, González-Gross M, Sánchez Ramírez C, Laiño F, Tan B, Pillay JD, Pigozzi F, Jimenez-Pavon D, Novak B, Jaunig J, Zhang M, van Poppel M, Heidt C, Willwacher S, Yuki G, Lieberman DE, Vogt L, Verhagen E, Hespanhol L, Hollander K. A Pandemic within the Pandemic? Physical Activity Levels Substantially Decreased in Countries Affected by COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(5):2235.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wilke, Jan, Lisa Mohr, Adam S. Tenforde, Pascal Edouard, Chiara Fossati, Marcela González-Gross, Celso Sánchez Ramírez, Fernando Laiño, Benedict Tan, Julian D. Pillay, Fabio Pigozzi, David Jimenez-Pavon, Bernhard Novak, Johannes Jaunig, Mandy Zhang, Mireille van Poppel, Christoph Heidt, Steffen Willwacher, Gustavo Yuki, Daniel E. Lieberman, Lutz Vogt, Evert Verhagen, Luiz Hespanhol, and Karsten Hollander. 2021. "A Pandemic within the Pandemic? Physical Activity Levels Substantially Decreased in Countries Affected by COVID-19" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 5: 2235.

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