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Impact of COVID-19 on physical activity of 10,000 Steps members and engagement with the program in Australia: Prospective study

journal contribution
posted on 30.04.2021, 01:01 authored by Gia ToGia To, Mitch J Duncan, Anetta Van Itallie, Corneel VandelanotteCorneel Vandelanotte
BACKGROUND: Background: Physical activity is an important health behavior due to its association with many physical and mental health conditions. During distressing events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a concern that physical activity levels may be negatively impacted. However, recent studies have shown inconsistent results. Additionally, there is a lack of studies in Australia on this topic. OBJECTIVE: Objective: To investigate changes in physical activity reported through the 10,000 Steps program and changes in engagement with the program during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Methods: Data between 01/01/2018 and 30/06/2020 from registered members of the 10,000 Steps program, which included 3,548,825 days with steps data, were used. The number of daily steps was logged manually by the members or synced automatically from the activity trackers connected to the program. Measures on the program usage were the number of new registered members per day, the number of newly registered organisations per day, the number of steps logged per day, and the number of step entries per day. Key dates used for comparison were: first case with symptoms in Wuhan; first case in Australia reported; a 14-day ban for non-citizens arriving to Australia from China implemented; lockdown starts in Australia; and Australian Government starts relaxing restrictions. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to test for significant differences in steps between subgroups, engagement measures in 2019 vs. 2020, and before and after an event. RESULTS: Results: A decrease in steps was observed after the first case in Australia (1.5%, p<0.05), and the lockdown (3.4%, p<0.001). At the time of relaxing restrictions started, the steps were already recovered from the lockdown. Additionally, the trends were consistent across genders and age groups. New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Victoria had the greatest reductions with decreases of 7.0% (p<0.001), 6.2% (p<0.05), and 4.7% (p<0.001), respectively. During the lockdown, the use of the program increased steeply. On the peak day, there were >9,000 step entries/day with nearly 100 million steps/day logged; and >450 new users and >15 new organizations registering per day although the numbers decreased quickly when restrictions were relaxed. On average per day, there were about 55 new registered users (p<0.001) and two new organisations (p<0.001), 25.6 million steps (p<0.001), and 2672 log entries (p<0.001) more in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. CONCLUSIONS: Conclusion: The pandemic has had negative effects on steps among Australians across age groups and gender. However, the effect was relatively small with steps recovering quickly after the lockdown. There was a large increase in the program usage during the pandemic that might help minimize the health impact of the lockdown and confirms the important role of physical activity programs during times of distress and lockdowns. CLINICALTRIAL:

Funding

Category 2 - Other Public Sector Grants Category

History

Volume

23

Issue

1

Start Page

1

End Page

9

Number of Pages

9

eISSN

1438-8871

ISSN

1439-4456

Location

Canada

Publisher

Journal of Medical Internet Research

Publisher License

CC BY 4.0

Additional Rights

CC BY 4.0

Language

eng

Peer Reviewed

Yes

Open Access

Yes

Acceptance Date

29/08/2020

External Author Affiliations

The University of Newcastle

Author Research Institute

Appleton Institute

Era Eligible

Yes

Medium

Electronic

Journal

Journal of Medical Internet Research

Article Number

e23946