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

IPAN researchers Dr Lauren Arundell and Dr Kate Parker are leading a two-year study to understand how COVID-19 has 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 researchers Dr Lauren Arundell and Dr Kate Parker are leading a two-year natural experiment to understand how these changes in way of life influenced movement behaviours, health and wellbeing.

This study aims 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 include:

The study includes 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.

The researchers are planning a series of surveys over two years, allowing them to capture changes as the pandemic progresses and restrictions ease, 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 was 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 is 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.”