Decline in the physical activity of French people during the lockdown from March to May 2020

May 04, 2021
santé et nutrition
Sébastien Bouley

In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, as soon as the containment was announced from March 17 to May 11, 2020, Public Health France launched a behavioral surveillance system (CoviPrev survey) to assess the impact of confinement on the health of the population. The survey conducted from May 4 to 6, 2020 made it possible to analyze the levels of physical activity and sedentary lifestyle of the adult population during confinement on an independent sample of 2,000 people, aged 18 and over, residing in France metropolitan, interviewed online.

The prevalence of lack of physical activity (physical activity less than 30 minutes / day) and high sedentary lifestyle (time spent sitting more than 7 hours / day) and the frequency of interruption of time spent sitting were analyzed, in here are the main results:
  • During the confinement period half of the population did not meet the recommendations of at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day and a third reported a high level of sedentary lifestyle, spending more than 7 hours per day in a sitting position ;
  • Comparing to their practices prior to confinement, 47% of respondents said they had reduced their physical activity and 61% had increased their daily time spent sitting;
  • The lack of physical activity more affected people from less advantaged socio-professional categories (CSP-) or without a professional activity, as well as women with the least education, on sick leave or partial unemployment. In contrast, reporting a decrease in physical activity was associated with high social status and, in men, teleworking. The reported increase in time spent sitting has been associated with teleworking and short-time working.
  • Links between physical activity, sedentary lifestyle and mental health have been shown. Lack of physical activity, high sedentary lifestyle, decreased physical activity and increased time spent sitting compared to the previous period without confinement were associated, differentiated by sex, with anxiety, depression or sleep disturbances reported during confinement.

In short, these results highlight a deterioration in physical activity and sedentary behavior in the French adult population during the confinement period from March to May 2020. They show the importance of promoting an active lifestyle to contribute to the maintenance of the physical and mental health of the population.

For more information, you can consult the full report taken from the Weekly Epidemiological Bulletin of February 4, 2021 from Public Health France.