COVID-19: study reveals impact of UK lockdown on activity in chronic disease patients

  • Rogers NT, et al.
  • medRxiv
  • 18 May 2020

  • curated by Priscilla Lynch
  • UK Medical News
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"As an exception during this period of health crisis, some of the publications mentioned are at the time of writing still in pre-publication, undergoing peer review and subject to change. The results of this pre-print study should be interpreted with utmost caution."

Disproportionate numbers of adults with chronic diseases and conditions that put them at higher risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes reduced their physical activity levels during the first weeks of the UK coronavirus lockdown, according to a new study.

Published as a pre-print on medRxiv, the study uses data from a UK-wide online survey of more than 5800 adults aged 20 years and over, during 6-22 April 2020, roughly mapping to weeks three to five of the lockdown in the UK. The survey included 49 questions covering a broad range of topics.

Most (about 60%) participants achieved the same level of intensity of physical activity during the lockdown as before the epidemic, but 25.4 per cent adopted lower intensity physical activity.

Doing less intensive physical activity during the lockdown was associated with obesity (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.02-1.41), hypertension (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.33-1.71), lung disease (OR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.13-1.49), depression (OR, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.82-2.22) and disability (OR, 2.34; 95% CI, 1.99-2.69).

Participants who reduced their physical activity intensity also had higher odds of being female, living alone or having no garden and more commonly expressed sentiments about personal or household risks in narratives on coping.

Groups who reduced physical activity intensity included disproportionate numbers of people with either heightened objective clinical risks or greater tendency to express subjective perceptions of risk, the study authors noted.

Policy on exercise for health during lockdowns should include strategies to facilitate health-promoting levels of physical activity in vulnerable groups, including those with both objective and subjective risks.

Lead author of the study, Dr Nina Rogers said: “It is concerning that in the mid to long term, multiple lockdowns might lead to prolonged periods of low physical activity which could increase the size of the population that is most vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19.”