Decreased levels of physical activity: results from a cross-sectional study in southern Italy during the COVID-19 lockdown

Isabella Franco, Antonella Bianco, Caterina Bonfiglio, Paolo Sorino, Antonella Mirizzi, Angelo Campanella, Claudia Buongiorno, Rosalba Liuzzi, Alberto R Osella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Italian government took security measures to try to limit infections. Restrictive measures included social distancing, home confinement and the closure of all public structures like gyms and swimming pools. The impact of these limitations on health and lifestyle was inevitably negative. The purpose of this study was to establish the level of physical activity (PA), expressed as energy expenditure (MET-minute/week) in a Southern Italian population before and during the COVID-19 lockdown.

METHODS: An adapted version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-short form (IPAQ-SF) was published on the official website of the National Institute of Gastroenterology IRCCS S. de Bellis, Castellana Grotte, Bari, Italy and on several social media in May 2020.

RESULTS: Three hundred ten replies (72% women) from Apulia (60%), Calabria (28%), Campania (11%) and Sicily (1%) were included in the study. The COVID-19 lockdown had a negative effect on the vigorous PA intensity level and on walking, but not on the moderate PA intensity level. Additionally, daily time spent sitting down increased by more than 12% during the COVID-19 lockdown.

CONCLUSIONS: Isolation changed PA behaviors. The decreased energy expenditure (MET-minute/week) during the lockdown had a negative impact in both genders, especially on the young adults and adults' groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)294-300
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy/epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sitting Position
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking


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