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.
- preventive medicine
- randomised controlled trial
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request if permitted by the respective ethics vote.
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