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Table 2 Theme names and definitions

From: A multi-perspective qualitative exploration of the reasons for changes in the physical activity among 10–11-year-old children following the easing of the COVID-19 lockdown in the UK in 2021

  Theme name Definition
1 Lockdown: A short-lived adventure This theme explores the experience of a short-lived lockdown novelty where responsibilities and priorities shifted, both among families and within schools, leading to an increased motivation for wellbeing and physical activity. However, with prolonged restrictions and return to lockdown in winter 2020–21, these feelings turned to frustration and tedium. Responsibilities and priorities returned, in the form of academic and vocational pressures. This created a very challenging and inactive period for children and their families
2 Access to facilities during restrictions The importance of access to appropriate physical activity facilities in the local and home environment was expressed in the data. Parents and children living in more rural communities, which was associated with greater levels of economic affluence, tended to be able to access more green space and had more space to utilise for physical activity within the home. Limited access to equipment at home, reduced the extent children enjoyed physical activity, particularly during the later stages of the lockdown, leading to disengagement from physical activity
3 The importance of the parent This theme reflects the importance of the role of the parent in their child’s physical activity. The lockdowns and restrictions impacted children’s primary motivations for physical activity, such as having fun with friends, resulting in an increased need for external encouragement. In addition, the school’s inability to monitor physical activity at home resulted in an increased parental responsibility for their child’s activity
4 An overwhelming return to normal A sense of an emotionally overwhelming transition between life in lockdown and other restrictions to an environment more closely representing a pre-pandemic normality, particularly during the return to school in September 2021, was expressed throughout the data. A significant increase in other children, apprehension of the unknown, and COVID-19 worries contributed to the feeling of being overwhelmed, which manifested itself as social conflict/withdrawal and some avoidance of active clubs
5 Reopening fatigue An increased sense of physical fatigue and tiredness among children followed the second reopening in April 2021. Transitioning from a sedentary and secluded life in lockdown to a physically and emotionally challenging lifestyle contributed to these feelings of fatigue that impacted on motivation to participate in physical activities