News Ireland Study finds student exercise levels reduced during first lockdown

Study finds student exercise levels reduced during first lockdown


A study has found that half of post-primary school students did less physical activity than usual during the first lockdown.

These students were more likely to be overweight or obese and were not availing of physical activity of sport opportunities offered by their school or local community.

The study conducted by a group based in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Science (PESS) in the University of Limerick (UL) asked 1,214 students between 12 and 18-years-old about how their exercise habits changed during the closure of schools earlier this year due to the pandemic.

Students from six Active School Flag pilot schools were surveyed, with the reasons for altered exercise patterns including the absence of school Physical Education (PE) classes, the lack of an instructor or coach, and the closure of sport and exercise facilities.

One in three students reported no change in their activity levels, while 20 per cent the first lockdown allowed them to increase the amount of exercise the were doing.


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Daily walks were a popular lockdown distraction for the students, with many saying they made the most of the allowance to leave your home for exercise purposes.

Professor Catherine Woods, chair of the Physical Activity for Health Research Cluster in UL said a greater emphasis must be placed on the provision of exercise opportunities for young people during the ongoing pandemic.

“These results suggest that teachers, national and community sport clubs, decision makers and industries that access students need to organise and create opportunities for physical activity during crises.

“Families play a vital role to support physical activity behaviours and could be encouraged to make use of existing infrastructures to promote daily physical activities such as walking and cycling as well as permit the use of online physical activity sessions,” added Prof Woods.

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