Exploring changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour since COVID-19 – the Our Life @ Home Study

IPAN researchers conducted a two-year study to understand how COVID-19 influenced movement behaviours, health and wellbeing.

In the wake of COVID-19, the ability of Australians to move freely around their communities greatly shifted.

The State and Federal governments’ response to managing the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented and widespread social isolation and restriction of movement.

IPAN researcher Dr Lauren Arundell and former IPAN researcher Dr Kate Parker led a two-year natural experiment to understand how these changes in way of life influenced movement behaviours, health and wellbeing.

This study aimed to examine changes in activity-related behaviours, health and wellbeing, and identify the factors that may influence these at the beginning, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Focus areas included:

The study included Australians aged 13-75 years, with adults also reporting on their children’s (aged 5-17 years), movement behaviours, screen time, health and wellbeing and influencing factors.

A series of surveys was conducted over two years to capture changes as the pandemic progresses and restrictions eased, and at key changes in government response (e.g. level of restrictions, online schooling).

“Physical activity and sedentary behaviour, such as screen time, are key movement behaviours that can promote and inhibit health and wellbeing,” Dr Arundell said.

“While some people will adapt and find alternative ways to maintain optimum movement behaviours, screen use and health, others will not, potentially revealing at risk population groups.”

Dr Parker said the team had been interested in understanding how behaviour changes over time, and what influenced these changes.

“Factors such as the home environment, employment status, stress and anxiety, government response and support measures, work and school requirements, and social connections could all influence how people’s movement behaviour shifts,” she said.

“It’s possible that there will be lasting change in the way physical activity, sport and screen time is viewed, valued and performed, which could have longer-term implications for the health, education, sporting and recreation sectors.”

Study findings:

  1. Physical activity and active recreation before and during COVID-19: The Our Life at Home study
  2. The Use of Digital Platforms for Adults’ and Adolescents’ Physical Activity During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Our Life at Home): Survey Study
  3. Changes in Families’ Leisure, Educational/Work and Social Screen Time Behaviours before and during COVID-19 in Australia: Findings from the Our Life at Home Study
  4. Socioecological correlates associated with muscle-strengthening exercise at home during COVID-19 among adolescents: The Our Life at Home study