Impact of COVID-19 on physical activity: A rapid review. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Physical activity is a commonly prescribed medicine for people with conditions such as obesity and diabetes who are also at increased risk of being hospitalized or severely ill from COVID-19. However, many people are reporting challenges in engaging in a healthy dose of physical activity amid the pandemic. OBJECTIVE: This rapid review synthesizes the current empirical evidence about the impacts of COVID-19 on people's outdoor physical activity and sedentary behavior while highlighting the role of community environments in promoting or hindering physical activity during the pandemic. METHODS: Literature searches were conducted using keywords related to COVID-19: physical activity, mobility, and lifestyle behaviors. Eligibility criteria were peer-reviewed empirical and quantitative studies published in English, addressing COVID-19 and using physical activity and/or sedentary behavior as the study outcomes. RESULTS: Out of 61 eligible studies, the majority (78.3%) were conducted in Asian and European countries, with only four (6.7%) being US studies. The results showed that COVID-19 was linked with significant decreases in mobility, walking, and physical activity, and increases in sedentary activity. A few studies also reported contradicting results including increased uses of parks/trails and increased recreational activity among certain groups of population. CONCLUSIONS: Evidence suggests an overall negative impact of COVID-19 on physical activity, with differential effects across different sub-populations. Significant knowledge gaps are also found in the roles of social and physical attributes that can promote physical activity during pandemics with reduced safety risks.

published proceedings

  • J Glob Health

altmetric score

  • 18

author list (cited authors)

  • Park, A. H., Zhong, S., Yang, H., Jeong, J., & Lee, C.

citation count

  • 28

complete list of authors

  • Park, Amaryllis H||Zhong, Sinan||Yang, Haoyue||Jeong, Jiwoon||Lee, Chanam

publication date

  • January 2022