Prevalence and correlates of physical activity in a sample of UK adults observing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lee Smith, Louis Jacob, Laurie Butler, Felipe Schuch, Yvonne Barnett, Igor Grabovac, Nicola Veronese, Cristina Caperchione, Guillermo F. Lopez-Sanchez, Jacob Meyer, Mohammad Abufaraj, Anita Yakkundi, Nicola Armstrong, Mark A. Tully

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Objective To investigate the levels and correlates of physical activity during COVID-19 social distancing in a sample of the UK public. Methods This paper presents analyses of data from a cross-sectional study. Levels of physical activity during COVID-19 social distancing were self-reported. Participants also reported on sociodemographic and clinical data. The association between several factors and physical activity was studied using regression models. Results Nine hundred and eleven adults were included (64.0% were women and 50.4% of the participants were aged 35-64 years). 75.0% of the participants met the physical activity guidelines during social distancing. Meeting these guidelines during social distancing was significantly associated with sex (reference: male; female: OR=1.60, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.33), age (reference: 18-34 years; ≥65 years: OR=4.11, 95% CI 2.01 to 8.92), annual household income (reference: <£15 000; £15 000-<£25 000: OR=2.03, 95% CI 1.11 to 3.76; £25 000-<£40 000: OR=3.16, 95% CI 1.68 to 6.04; £40 000-<£60 000: OR=2.27, 95% CI 1.19 to 4.34; ≥£60 000: OR=2.11, 95% CI 1.09 to 4.09), level of physical activity per day when not observing social distancing (OR=1.00 (per 1 min increase), 95% CI 1.00 to 1.01), and any physical symptom experienced during social distancing (reference: no; yes: OR=0.31, 95% CI 0.21 to 0.46). Conclusion During COVID-19, social distancing interventions should focus on increasing physical activity levels among younger adults, men and those with low annual household income. It should be noted in the present sample that women and younger adults are over-represented.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000850
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.


  • epidemiology
  • physical activity
  • public health


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