Reduced Physical Activity Levels In Community-Dwelling Older Adults In Denmark During The Covid-19 Pandemic

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INTRODUCTION: Being physically active is important in the prevention of adverse health effects in older adults, such as falls (1), cardiovascular outcome (2) and mortality (3). Although many older adults are positive toward physical activity, the factors limiting participation in physical activity are numerous and the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded the problem by dramatically reducing the amount and quality of social gatherings and interactions for older adults. The objective of this study was to investigate changes in physical activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, among community-dwelling older adults in Denmark. METHODS: We assessed different exertion levels, frequencies, and duration of physical activity of 62 older adults (70.4±4.3yrs) during leisure time activity undertaken over a period of seven days, using the Physical Activity Scale for Elderly (PASE). The results of the scale are calculated, unitless values. The pre-pandemic measures were obtained late 2019 and January 2020, while the second and third measures were obtained one month into the first and second lockdown period in Denmark (April 2020 and January 2021 respectively). A repeated measures ANOVA with Greenhouse-Geisser corrections was used to test for differences between time points, with Bonferroni corrections used as post hoc test. RESULTS: The PASE score for the total leisure activities, moderate and strenuous sports were: pre-pandemic 39.8 (±26.4), 12.2 (±13.9) and 3.1 (±6.4); first lockdown: 32.7 (±22.1), 6.8 (±11.5) and 2.5 (±8.7) and; second lockdown: 16.3 (±10.3), 3.3 (±5.7) and 0.8 (±2.2). There was a reduction in total leisure activities from pre-pandemic to: (i) first lockdown by 17% (P=0.03) and; (ii) second lockdown by 59% (P<0.01). The PASE score for moderate exertion levels of sports was reduced from pre-pandemic to: (i) first lockdown by 44% (P<0.01) and; (ii) second lockdown by 73% (P<0.01). CONCLUSION: The total leisure activities for the older adults in our study decreased by 59% from pre-pandemic period to the second lockdown, which equals the PASE score of a combination of walking for 1-2 hour 3-4 times a week and 1-2 hours of moderate sports 1-2 days a week. Since recent literature indicates that physical activity levels can affect both the risk of falling and the risk of getting osteoporosis, this data may suggest that Community-dwelling older adults in Denmark might face a higher risk of experiencing fall related fractures during the pandemic. 1. García-Hermoso, A, et al., Safety and Effectiveness of Long-Term Exercise Interventions in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Sports Med, 2020. 50(6): p.1095-1106. 2. Sawyer, K, & Castaneda-Sceppa, C, Impact of aerobic physical activity on cardiovascular and noncardiovascular outcomes: Is anyone too old to exercise? Aging Health, 2010. 6(2): p.251-260. 3. Saint-Maurice, P.F, et al., Association of Daily Step Count and Step Intensity With Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA, 2020. 323(12): p.1151–1160.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date8 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2021
EventVirtual Congress European College of Sport Science, ECSS 2021 - Virtual
Duration: 31 Aug 202110 Sep 2021


ConferenceVirtual Congress European College of Sport Science, ECSS 2021

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