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Assessing the effect of COVID-19 lockdown on perceived barriers and facilitators to physical activity among women in Southeast England

Paice, Katherine, Hersant, Hannah, Anico, Shannah, Smith, Elizabeth (2024) Assessing the effect of COVID-19 lockdown on perceived barriers and facilitators to physical activity among women in Southeast England. Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 32 (1). Article Number 2023-0067. ISSN 1063-6161. E-ISSN 1938-1581. (doi:10.1123/wspaj.2023-0067) (KAR id:105710)


The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in restricting daily physical activity (PA). Women’s PA levels have been disproportionately negatively affected by the pandemic, compared with men. It is important to determine how women’s PA has changed over the pandemic, and if new barriers to PA participation exist since the release of restrictions. Aims: To assess how women in southeast England changed their activity during the pandemic and postpandemic, including how barriers and facilitators to activity have changed. Methods: Three hundred and thirty females completed the first online questionnaire (during lockdown), and 139 completed the postlockdown questionnaire. Questionnaires were designed from the General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire and International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Participants self-reported PA, and barriers and facilitators to exercise. Eighteen females then participated in online semistructured focus groups. Descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were used for questionnaire data, and focus group transcriptions were thematically analyzed. Results: Most females maintained PA levels throughout the pandemic. Significant barriers to activity were lack of access to equipment/space, limited time to exercise, limited access to social groups, and finances as well as legal restrictions, safety concerns, gender, and lack of childcare. Similarly, significant facilitators were identified during lockdown and postlockdown for access to equipment, finances, having more time to exercise, and exercising with a social group. Participants both expressed desires to return to prelockdown PA habits, but also maintain new ones that were created. Conclusion: It is evident that the pandemic affected and changed the barriers and facilitators to female PA participation. Governments and industries in the sector should focus on providing services that address these changing habits to improve activity levels in women.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1123/wspaj.2023-0067
Uncontrolled keywords: motivation; exercise; female; sedentary; pandemic
Subjects: Q Science
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Hannah Hersant
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2024 10:12 UTC
Last Modified: 03 May 2024 03:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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