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Publication Detail
UK Adults’ Exercise Locations, Use of Digital Programs, and Associations with Physical Activity during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Longitudinal Analysis of Data from the Health Behaviours during the COVID-19 Pandemic Study
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Schneider V, Kale D, Herbec A, Beard E, Fisher A, Shahab L
  • Publication date:
    01/06/2022
  • Journal:
    JMIR Formative Research
  • Volume:
    6
  • Issue:
    6
  • Status:
    Published
Abstract
Background: Digital physical activity (PA) program use has been associated with higher PA guideline adherence during COVID-19 pandemic confinements. However, little is known longitudinally about exercise locations (inside vs outside the home environment), digital program use, and their associations with moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and muscle-strengthening activities (MSAs) during the pandemic. Objective: The aims of this study were to assess the relationship between exercise location and use of digital programs with PA guideline adherence during the COVID-19 pandemic, describe how individuals exercised inside and outside of their home environments, and explore which sociodemographic and contextual factors were associated with exercise locations and digital PA program use. Methods: Active UK adults (N=1938) who participated in the 1-month follow-up survey of the Health Behaviours During the COVID-19 Pandemic (HEBECO) study (FU1, June-July 2020) and at least one more follow-up survey (FU2, August-September; FU3, November-December 2020) reported exercise locations and types of exercises inside and outside their homes, including digital programs (online/app-based fitness classes/programs), MVPA, and MSA. Generalized linear mixed models were used to assess associations of exercise location and digital PA program use with PA guideline adherence (MVPA, MSA, full [combined] adherence), and predictors of exercise location and digital program use. Results: As the pandemic progressed, active UK adults were less likely to exercise inside or to use digital PA programs compared with periods of initial confinement: 61% (95% CI 58%-63%; weighted n=1024), 50% (95% CI 48%-53%; weighted n=786), and 49% (95% CI 46%-51%; weighted n=723) performed any exercise inside their homes at FU1, FU2, and FU3, respectively. At FU1, FU2, and FU3, 22% (95% CI 21%-25%; weighted n=385), 17% (95% CI 15%-19%; weighted n=265), and 16% (95% CI 14%-18%; weighted n=241) used digital PA programs, respectively. Most participants who exercised inside already owned indoor equipment, used digital PA programs, or had their own workout routines, whereas MVPA and gentle walking were the most common exercise types performed outside the home. Being female, nonwhite, having a condition limiting PA, indoor exercising space, a lower BMI, and living in total isolation were associated with increased odds of exercising inside the home or garden compared with outside exercise only. Digital PA program users were more likely to be younger, female, highly educated, have indoor space to exercise, and a lower BMI. While exercising inside was positively associated with MSA and exercising outside was positively associated with MVPA guideline adherence, both inside (vs outside only) and outside (vs inside only) activities contributed to full PA guideline adherence (odds ratio [OR] 5.05, 95% CI 3.17-8.03 and OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.10-3.23, respectively). Digital PA program use was associated with a higher odds of MSA (OR 3.97-8.71) and full PA (OR 2.24-3.95), but not with MVPA guideline adherence. Conclusions: During the COVID-19 pandemic, full PA guideline adherence was associated with exercising inside and outside of one’s home environment and using digital PA programs. More research is needed to understand the reach, long-term adherence, and differences between digital PA solutions.
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