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Table 3 Key findings and implications

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

Key finding


Post-COVID-19 challenges

Despite easing of restrictions, returning to normality presented many challenges for children that impacted their physical activity, predominantly emotional overwhelm and fatigue. It is important that practitioners consider these challenges and provide appropriate support for children

Reductions in unstructured active play

Data suggested that active play behaviour, such as children playing with friends outside, has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to a net decrease in MVPA among children. Strategies to promote active play are warranted

COVID-19 restriction tedium

In later stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions became mentally challenging for many families, leading to increased sedentary behaviour. Policy makers should be aware of the impact of restrictions on mental and physical health

The importance of the parent

Parental encouragement and support were important for child activity levels, especially during periods of lockdown. Providing parents with relevant skills and knowledge to enable them to facilitate enjoyable physical activities for their child during periods of COVID-19 restrictions is needed

Access to physical activity facilities

Ensuring that children and families have access to appropriate physical activity facilities is warranted, particularly during periods of restrictions. Ensuring that children have access to outdoor green space and providing families with equipment, such as sports equipment, will help avoid repetitive physical activity and alleviate boredom when COVID-19 restrictions reduce opportunities. Policy makers should be aware of the impact of reduced access to appropriate facilities on child physical activity behaviour