Countries all over the world implemented lockdowns to counteract COVID-19. These lockdowns heavily limited people’s exercise possibilities. At the same time, experts advocated to remain physically active to prevent future health problems. Against this background, this study examines levels and patterns of exercising during the lockdown, the demographic and exercise-related characteristics of high and low active respondents, and reasons for exercising less, as much, or more in times of the COVID-19 lockdown. An online survey targeting how adults in Flanders (Belgium) exercised during the COVID-19 lockdown was broadly dispersed, using non-probability sampling. The country’s largest newspaper and public and private sport organizations helped spreading the survey. Analyses of 13,515 valid and population-weighted responses indicate a general increase in exercise frequency as well as in sedentary behavior. Except for people aged 55+, previously low active adults self-reported to exercise more during the lockdown. Of the people who were already high active before COVID-19, those above 55 years old, those with low education, those used to exercise with friends or in a sport club, and those who were not using online tools to exercise self-reported to exercise less during the lockdown. Having less time, sitting more, and missing the familiar way and competition element of exercising were the main reasons for a self-reported exercise reduction. Promoting exercise inhouse and in public space during a lockdown might prevent an exercise reduction. However, given the health risks associated with physical inactivity, results imply that governments should consider how 55+ years old citizens, people with low education, and sport club participants can be encouraged to exercise during a lockdown, especially since additional COVID-19 countermeasures might be implemented in the future.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

    Research areas

  • COVID-19;, Sport participation, Health promotion, Pandemic, Physical exercise

ID: 52683247