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Train at home, but not alone: a randomised controlled multicentre trial assessing the effects of live-streamed tele-exercise during COVID-19-related lockdowns
  1. Jan Wilke1,
  2. Lisa Mohr2,
  3. Gustavo Yuki3,
  4. Adelle Kemlall Bhundoo4,
  5. David Jiménez-Pavón5,6,
  6. Fernando Laiño7,
  7. Niamh Murphy8,
  8. Bernhard Novak9,
  9. Stefano Nuccio10,
  10. Sonia Ortega-Gómez5,6,
  11. Julian David Pillay4,
  12. Falk Richter11,
  13. Lorenzo Rum10,
  14. Celso Sanchez-Ramírez12,
  15. David Url9,
  16. Lutz Vogt2,
  17. Luiz Hespanhol3,13
  1. 1 Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  2. 2 Department of Sports Medicine and Exercise Physiology, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  3. 3 Masters and Doctoral Programs in Physical Therapy, Universidade Cidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  4. 4 Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa
  5. 5 MOVE-IT Research Group, Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Education Sciences and Biomedical Research Innovation Institute of Cádiz, University of Cádiz, CIBERFES, Cádiz, Spain, Cadiz, Spain
  6. 6 ImFine Research Group, Department of Health and Human Performance, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid; Exercise is Medicine, Madrid, Spain
  7. 7 Fundación Instituto Superior de Ciencias de la Salud, Buenos Aires, Argentina
  8. 8 Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland
  9. 9 Institute of Human Movement Science, Sport and Health, Karl-Franzens-Universitat Graz, Graz, Austria
  10. 10 Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, Rome, Italy
  11. 11 Department of Sports Medicine and Exercise Physiology, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  12. 12 Sciences of Physical Activity, Sports and Health School, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile
  13. 13 Department of Public and Occupational Health and the Amsterdam Public Health research institute, VU University Medical Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jan Wilke, Institute of Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main 60487, Germany; wilke{at}


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

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

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Data availability statement

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

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it published Online First. The results section of the abstract has been revised for clarity.

  • Contributors JW: concept/design, data collection, data analysis, manuscript draft, critical revision. LM, LH: data collection, data analysis, critical revision. AKB, DJ-P, FL, NM, BN, SN, SO-G, JP, FR, LR, CS, DU, LV: data collection, critical revision. Guarantor: JW

  • Funding LH received Young Investigator Grant from the Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP; grant 2016/09220-1). GY received a grant from the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001. Support from the Biomedical Research Networking Center on Frailty and Healthy Aging (CIBERFES) and FEDER funds from the European Union (CB16/10/00477) was provided.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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