Impact of social restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical activity levels of adults aged 50-92 years: A baseline survey of the CHARIOT COVID-19 Rapid Response prospective cohort study

David Salman, Thomas Beaney, Catherine E Robb, Celeste A. De Jager Loots, Parthenia Giannakopoulou, Chinedu T. Udeh-Momoh, Sara Ahmadi-Abhari, Azeem Majeed, Lefkos T. Middleton, Alison H. McGregor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Objectives Physical inactivity is more common in older adults, is associated with social isolation and loneliness and contributes to increased morbidity and mortality. We examined the effect of social restrictions to reduce COVID-19 transmission in the UK (lockdown), on physical activity (PA) levels of older adults and the social predictors of any change. Design Baseline analysis of a survey-based prospective cohort study. Setting Adults enrolled in the Cognitive Health in Ageing Register for Investigational and Observational Trials cohort from general practitioner practices in North West London were invited to participate from April to July 2020. Participants 6219 cognitively healthy adults aged 50-92 years completed the survey. Main outcome measures Self-reported PA before and after the introduction of lockdown, as measured by metabolic equivalent of task (MET) minutes. Associations of PA with demographic, lifestyle and social factors, mood and frailty. Results Mean PA was significantly lower following the introduction of lockdown from 3519 to 3185 MET min/week (p<0.001). After adjustment for confounders and prelockdown PA, lower levels of PA after the introduction of lockdown were found in those who were over 85 years old (640 (95% CI 246 to 1034) MET min/week less); were divorced or single (240 (95% CI 120 to 360) MET min/week less); living alone (277 (95% CI 152 to 402) MET min/week less); reported feeling lonely often (306 (95% CI 60 to 552) MET min/week less); and showed symptoms of depression (1007 (95% CI 612 to 1401) MET min/week less) compared with those aged 50-64 years, married, cohabiting and not reporting loneliness or depression, respectively. Conclusions and implications Markers of social isolation, loneliness and depression were associated with lower PA following the introduction of lockdown in the UK. Targeted interventions to increase PA in these groups should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number21050680
Number of pages12
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • geriatric medicine
  • preventive medicine
  • public health
  • sports medicine

Cite this