Physical Activity Change during COVID-19 Confinement

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Sep 21;17(18):6878. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17186878.


Background: The lockdown and social distancing caused by COVID-19 may influence common health behavior. The unprecedent worldwide confinement, in which Spain has been one of the most affected-with severe rules governing confinement-may have changed physical activity (PA) and sedentary habits due to prolonged stays at home. Purpose: The aim of this study is to evaluate how self-reported PA and sedentary time (ST) have changed during confinement in the Spanish population. Methods: 3800 healthy adults (age 18-64 years) residing in Spain answered the international physical activity questionnaire short (IPAQ-S) twice between 23 March and 1 April (confinement). Data analysis was carried out taking into consideration meeting general PA recommendations before confinement, age and gender. Results: Self-reported PA decreased significantly during confinement in our sample. Vigorous physical activities (VPA) and walking time decreased by 16.8% (p < 0.001) and 58.2% (p < 0.001), respectively, whereas ST increased by 23.8% (p < 0.001). The percent of people fulfilling the 75 min/week of VPA recommendation decreased by 10.7% (p < 0.001) while the percent of people who reached 150 min/week of moderate activity barely changed (1.4%). The group that performed the most VPA before confinement showed the greatest decrease (30.5%, p < 0.001). Men reduced time in VPA more than women (21% vs 9%, respectively) who even increased time in moderate PA by 11% (p < 0.05) and reported less increase in ST than men (35% vs 25.3%, respectively). Conclusion: The Spanish adult population, especially young people, students and very active men, decreased daily self-reported PA and increased ST during COVID-19 confinement.

Keywords: Covid-19; confinement; physical activity; sedentary behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / psychology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics*
  • Physical Distancing
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology*
  • Quarantine / psychology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires