Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Train at home, but not alone: a randomised controlled multicentre trial assessing the effects of live-streamed tele-exercise during COVID-19-related lockdowns


Objective Public life restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic caused reductions in physical activity (PA) and decreases in mental and somatic health. Considering the interplay between these factors, we investigated the effects of digital home exercise (DHE) during government-enforced lockdowns.

Methods A multicentre randomised controlled trial was performed allocating healthy individuals from nine countries (N=763; 523 female) to a DHE or an inactive control group. During the 4-week main intervention, DHE members engaged in live-streamed multicomponent home exercise. Subsequently, both groups had access to prerecorded workouts for an additional 4 weeks. Outcomes, assessed weekly, included PA level (Nordic Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short), anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale-7), mental well-being (WHO-5 Questionnaire), sleep quality (Medical Outcome Study Sleep Scale), pain/disability (Chronic Pain Grade Scale) and exercise motivation (Self-Concordance Scale). Mixed models were used for analysis.

Results Live-streamed DHE consistently increased moderate PA (eg, week 1: 1.65 times more minutes per week, 95% CI 1.40 to 1.94) and vigorous PA (eg, week 1: 1.31 times more minutes per week, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.61), although the effects decreased over time. In addition, exercise motivation, sleep quality and anxiety were slightly improved for DHE in the 4-week live streaming period. The same applied to mental well-being (mean difference at week 4: +0.99, 95% CI 0.13 to 1.86), but an inverted trend was observed after live streaming was substituted by prerecorded exercise.

Conclusions Live-streamed DHE represents an efficacious method to enhance PA and selected markers of health during pandemic-related public life restrictions. However, research on implementation is warranted to reduce dropout rates.

Trial Registration number DRKS00021273.

  • well-being
  • COVID-19
  • exercise
  • preventive medicine
  • randomised controlled trial

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request if permitted by the respective ethics vote.

This article is made freely available for personal use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.