Showcasing Science

Showcasing Science: Habit change in lockdown

Lindsay Bottoms (PhD, CSci, CSCS, FHEA, FBASES) Head of Centre for Research in Psychology and Sport Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire.

Lindsay and her team from the University of Hertfordshire have collected daily data from about 380 people throughout lockdown of COVID19 until July, when they began collecting weekly data on physical activity and sitting habits. They will continue to collect weekly data until end of September, and then monthly until end of January 2021.

At least 25% of the UK population is currently classed as inactive, participating in less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week. With the original COVID19 restrictions on social interaction, and the UK government lockdown directive, people were only allowed to leave the house if they were going to do essential work, go to the supermarket or they were going to exercise once a day.

This exercise allowance may have influenced motivation to do physical activity thus leading to changes in habits. Lindsay and her team wanted to see if there was a change in the number of people being active, as not only was there the opportunity to go out and exercise once a day, there were also more initiatives to do home exercise programmes as well.

With restrictions of some kind continuing to be in place, the Hertfordshire team are collecting data until January 2021. The aim of the study is to observe the changes in physical activity habits and look at how new habits form during the COVID19 confinement period. In addition, whether new habits form and continue following the end of the lockdown measures during a follow up period.

Daily data has been collected from about 380 people throughout lockdown of COVID19 until July, when the team began collecting weekly data on physical activity and sitting habits. Weekly data will continue to be collected until end of September, and then monthly until end of January 2021.

At such an unprecedented time, data from this study will enable the team to determine whether physical activity habits were changed during COVID19 from April until September, and if so, what influenced physical activity levels. Data can be used to inform future exercise initiatives to help overcome barriers to exercise as well as help future lockdowns due to COVID or other pandemics.

This article was published as part of our Showcasing Science series, read the rest of the blogs here.

Lindsay Bottoms, Katie Newby and Terun Desai

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