Evolving Inequalities in Physical Activity Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

Owen, Gwilym, Fahy, Katie and Barr, Ben ORCID: 0000-0002-4208-9475
(2023) Evolving Inequalities in Physical Activity Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. [Preprint]

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Background<br>Restrictions introduced to control the Covid-19 pandemic have potentially reduced levels of physical activity and increased inequalities. We investigated the extent to which this has happened during the first year of the pandemic in England. <br><br>Methods<br>Using representative survey data from 2015 until May 2021, we estimate the probability of being active over six stages, one prior to and five during the pandemic, using logistic regression. We model how these trends differed between groups based on gender, ethnicity, deprivation, age, disability and rurality. We further investigated the changes in the composition of activity. <br><br>Results<br>Levels of physical activity declined during the initial lockdown and while they partly recovered in the following months, by May 2021 they were still below pre-pandemic levels. In general, activity levels amongst more disadvantaged groups declined to a greater extent and recovered less than more advantaged groups, widening inequalities. By May 2021 the gap in physical activity rates between people living in the most and least deprived areas was 2.7 percentage points [95% CI 0.3 to 5.1] wider than would have been expected from pre-pandemic trends. Declines in some types of physical activity were partly compensated by increases in walking and cycling, but this tended to be greater among white British people and in less deprived areas. <br><br>Conclusion<br>Restrictions introduced to control the Covid-19 pandemic led to major declines in physical activity, increasing inequalities. Urgent action is needed to support the groups most affected to enable them to regain and increase levels of physical activity.

Item Type: Preprint
Uncontrolled Keywords: COVID-19, health inequalities, statistics, physical activity
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2023 15:33
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2024 13:34
DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.4301983
Open Access URL: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_i...
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3176938