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COVID-19-related restrictions disrupted the normal social and environmental systems within which children live, learn and play. These sudden societal changes provided opportunities for children and young people, their families, and the professionals and authorities supporting them to observe and experience a different type of world and reflect on what they value and what children’s lives could be. Throughout 2020 and 2021, Australian regions experienced different ‘lockdown’ situations—ranging from just a few days to over 250 days of significant restrictions including limited opportunities to leave the home, no in-person schooling, no organised sports, no mixing with friends and extended family and closures of local playgrounds.
Although potentially biased, available proxy-reported and self-reported data show that lockdowns were associated with changes in children and young people’s physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviours (including screen use)—but these changes were not uniform across Australia and not all were detrimental.
Changes in PA
An Australian national survey1 found 42% of parents reported their children were less active versus 8% who said they were more active. While most parents (61%) said children had more time for PA, many (49%) struggled to find ways to keep their children active. One state-based survey found that 70% of parents reported a decrease in their children’s PA.2 However, another state-based survey reported no overall decrease, but rather a shift from organised to unstructured PA.3
In response to the COVID-19 disruptions in Australia we witnessed several …
Twitter @Leon_Straker, @davidlubans, @lindseyreece28
Collaborators Active Healthy Kids Australia Working Group: Leon Straker, Verity Booth, Verity Cleland, Sjaan Gomersall, David Lubans, Tim Olds, Lindsey J Reece, Nicola D Ridgers, Michalis Stylianou, Grant Tomkinson, Kylie Hesketh.
Contributors All authors contributed to the conceptual development of the paper and revising of drafts and approved the final draft.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.