Reducing the impact of COVID-19 on physical activity and mental health

L Ambrosio (Lead / Corresponding author), J Falkner, D Lambrick, J Morris, E Compton, M C Portillo

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting abstractpeer-review


Background During the COVID-19 pandemic the United Kingdom government released regular guidance on limiting the spread of COVID-19. People, including those with long term conditions, were told to use physical distancing, self-isolation and/or shielding during COVID-19 to protect themselves and others. A consequence of these interventions was to exacerbate poor lifestyle behaviours, namely less physical activity. Objectives To propose recommendations to support and sustain their physical activity of people with long term conditions during and after COVID-19 or other pandemics. Methods A mixed methods project was conducted. An online quantitative survey with 368 people in the United Kingdom was conducted, followed by 26 online semi-structured interviews. Results The study demonstrated that online resources are not accessible for all populations. During COVID-19 pandemic, provision of PA information was most commonly available online. Also, COVID-19 lockdowns meant the sudden loss of opportunities to be active along with the social interaction and motivation usually in place to support activity. Finally, physical activity guidelines should be more specific. Local and national government guidelines were identified as unclear for those living with long term conditions and should be more specific regarding what people who were shielding could and could not do. Conclusions Based on the findings, more suitable and accessible physical activity guidelines for people with long term conditions is recommended. Also, prioritizing vulnerable groups is recommended to support physical activity to avoid the worsening of emotional wellbeing, and quality of life. Finally, government and public health authorities should consider charities and long term conditions voluntary organizations to design bespoke physical activity recommendations and guidelines for those shielding at home and living with long term conditions. Key messages • Government and public health authorities design bespoke PA recommendations for those living with LTCs. • Simple strategies such as ‘move more and sit less’ or ‘breaking up sitting time’ could be promoted as safe and accessible options for those living with LTCs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)ii626
Number of pages2
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue numbersupplement 2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2023


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