More than half of teens exercised less during lockdown

More than half of teens exercised less during lockdown

More than 1200 teenagers took part in the study. File Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The closure of schools, sports facilities and gyms during the spring lockdown may have impacted on teenagers' exercise habits, with many getting less physical activity than usual, research suggests.

A survey of more than 1,200 teens in secondary schools across Ireland found that more than half reported they did less physical activity than usual during the first lockdown.

They were also most likely to be overweight or obese.

Led by researchers at the University of Limerick, the study found that one in three students reported no change in their physical activity levels, and one in five reported to have done more than usual.

As well as the closure of schools and sports facilities, people are not allowed to travel outside of a few kilometres from their homes during strict lockdowns.

“This meant that students were being taught at home and were not given the opportunities they were used to for remaining physically active,” said Dr Kwok Ng, a researcher at the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS) in UL.

When it came to teens who were more active during the first lockdown, many said they went walking to get out of the house or to clear their heads. 

“These results suggest that teachers, national and community sport clubs, decision-makers and industries that access students need to organise and create opportunities for physical activity during crises," said Professor Catherine Woods, chair of Physical Activity and Health at UL. 

Families play a vital role to supporting exercise, and could be encouraged to promote daily activities such as walking and cycling as well as online physical activity sessions, she added.  

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