Article Text

Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviours from before to during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown: a systematic review
  1. Stephanie Stockwell1,
  2. Mike Trott1,2,
  3. Mark Tully3,
  4. Jae Shin4,
  5. Yvonne Barnett5,
  6. Laurie Butler6,
  7. Daragh McDermott6,
  8. Felipe Schuch7,
  9. Lee Smith1
  1. 1Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University - Cambridge Campus, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Vision and Eye Research Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  3. 3Institute of Mental Health Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, UK
  4. 4Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
  5. 5Anglia Ruskin University - Cambridge Campus, Cambridge, UK
  6. 6Faculty of Science and Engineering, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  7. 7Department of Sports Methods and Techniques, Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Mike Trott; mt472{at}


Objective In March 2020, several countries banned unnecessary outdoor activities during COVID-19, commonly called ‘lockdowns. These lockdowns have the potential to impact associated levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviour. Given the numerous health outcomes associated with physical activity and sedentary behaviour, the aim of this review was to summarise literature that investigated differences in physical activity and sedentary behaviour before vs during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Design, data sources and eligibility criteria Electronic databases were searched from November 2019 to October 2020 using terms and synonyms relating to physical activity, sedentary behaviour and COVID-19. The coprimary outcomes were changes in physical activity and/or sedentary behaviour captured via device-based measures or self-report tools. Risk of bias was measured using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.

Results Sixty six articles met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review (total n=86 981). Changes in physical activity were reported in 64 studies, with the majority of studies reporting decreases in physical activity and increases in sedentary behaviours during their respective lockdowns across several populations, including children and patients with a variety of medical conditions.

Conclusion Given the numerous physical and mental benefits of increased physical activity and decreased sedentary behaviour, public health strategies should include the creation and implementation of interventions that promote safe physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour should other lockdowns occur.

  • physical activity
  • sedentary
  • Review

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  • SS and MT are joint first authors.

  • Twitter @trottsumo

  • SS and MT contributed equally.

  • Contributors SS and MT: conceptualised the article, extracted and screened data, quality reviewed data, wrote the manuscript. MT, JS, YB, LB, DM and FS: wrote and reviewed manuscript. LS: conceptualised the article, wrote and reviewed manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.