Lockdown lifestyles: A mixed methods study exploring the impact of COVID-19 prevention measures on diet, physical activity and mental health in the UK adult population

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Background: The social lockdown measures implemented in the UK from March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic had the potential to influence people’s health-related behaviours. This mixed methods study explored the impact of these lockdown measures on diet, physical activity and mental health in the UK adult population.
Methods: During May and June 2020, UK adults were invited to complete an online survey about their experiences of lockdown, including self-reported measures of physical activity, diet and mental health. Survey participants were also invited to take part in a telephone interview to explore their experiences in greater depth. Descriptive analysis of survey results was conducted in STATA; thematic framework analysis of interview data was conducted in NVivo.
Results: 636 people completed the survey and 40 were interviewed. Equal numbers of survey respondents reported worsened (34%) and improved (34%) physical activity. Slightly more reported worsened (23%) than improved (19%) diet. Substantially more reported worsened (34%) than improved (8%) mental health. Key preliminary themes from the interviews include: impact of changed circumstances; anxiety for self and others; coping strategies; and unexpected positives of lockdown. The change in routine and environment enabled some participants to make healthy changes to their physical activity and diet (e.g. time previously spent commuting could now be spent exercising). However, others felt a loss of purpose due to the changes in circumstances and socialising, which impacted on their mental wellbeing and motivation for healthy behaviours.
Conclusions and implications: The social lockdown measures have differentially affected the UK adult population. In responding to pandemics, it is important to consider the impacts on people’s physical activity, diet and mental health, and support those likely to be negatively affected.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAcceptance date - 8 Dec 2020
EventAnnual General Meeting of the UK Society of Behavioural Medicine -
Duration: 13 Jan 202114 Jan 2021

Conference

ConferenceAnnual General Meeting of the UK Society of Behavioural Medicine
Period13/01/2114/01/21

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