Joint prevalence of physical activity and sitting time during COVID-19 among US adults in April 2020

Jacob Meyer, Matthew Herring, Cillian McDowell, Jeni Lansing, Cassandra Brower, Felipe Schuch, Lee Smith, Mark Tully, Joel Martin, Shane Caswell, Nelson Cortes, Ali Boolani

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The COVID-19 pandemic significantly altered much of US life with shifts to working-from-home and social distancing changing day-to-day behavior. We aimed to determine the self-reported prevalence of meeting US physical activity guidelines, stratified by sitting time during the early lockdown phase of COVID-19 in US adults. We conducted two cross-sectional internet-based studies April 3rd-May 4th, 2020 in convenience samples of US adults. Participants self-reported daily sitting time and weekly moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) via questions from the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. A total of 5036 US adults (65.3% women, 30.2% with chronic conditions) provided complete physical activity and sitting time data (80.3% of total). Overall, 42.6% of participants reported sitting for > 8 h/day (95% CI: 41.2%–44.0%) and 72.5% (71.2%–73.7%) reported being either sufficiently (150–300 MVPA minutes) or highly active (>300 min). The greatest proportion of people self-reported being highly active and sitting for > 8 h/day (24.0%; 22.8%-25.2%), followed by being highly active and sitting for 6–8 h/day (20.9%; 19.8%–22.1%). Sitting and activity appeared similar between sexes, while there was evidence of some age differences. For example, more young adults (ages 18–34) appeared to self-report being inactive and more appeared to sit for > 8 h/day compared to older adults. High sitting time was reported by US adults (>40% sitting > 8 h/day) during April 2020. However, high levels of physical activity (>70% meeting guidelines) were also reported. Since physical activity cannot eliminate the negative health effects of sitting, maintaining activity and limiting sitting during periods of large workplace and societal shifts is encouraged.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101256
Pages (from-to)101256
Number of pages1
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
Early online date27 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
JM, MH, CM, JL, CB, FS, LS, MT were involved in the conception, design and acquisition of data for study 1, while JL, SC, NC and AB were involved in the conception, design and acquisition of data for study 2. JM and AB pooled the data and ran the analyses for this manuscript. All authors were involved in drafting and revising the work critically for important intellectual content. The contents of this article have not been previously presented elsewhere. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Coronavirus
  • Exercise
  • Pandemic
  • Sedentary behavior
  • US guidelines


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