A Qualitative Study Exploring People’s Experience With the Multicomponent Community-Based Physical Activity Intervention ecofit During the COVID-19 Pandemic

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: The COVID-19 global pandemic greatly impacted lifestyles and physical activity routines. This study explored how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted participant experience and motivation in ecofit, a large, community-based, multicomponent intervention that supports aerobic and resistance-based physical activity using publicly available, outdoor exercise facilities and smartphone technology. Methods: Fifteen participants from the intervention arm of the study were interviewed. Audiotaped telephone interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed by a researcher uninvolved in the intervention. Through an inductive thematic approach, data were coded and organized into themes. The quantitative measure of participant smartphone application engagement was used as a classification during analysis. Results: Several themes representing participants’ experience of the COVID-19 pandemic in their engagement with ecofit, overall physical activity levels, motivation to exercise, and perception and usage of outdoor gym facilities were identified. Conclusion: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical trials is beginning to emerge. Although the present study showed a mixed impact of the pandemic on participation in the ecofit program, the overall implications for the intervention are yet to be determined. Interestingly, although a large review found a negative impact of COVID-19 on physical activity, this sample reported an overall increase.

Jansson, Lubans, Smith, Duncan, and Plotnikoff are with the Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia. Duncan is also with the School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia. Hansen is with the Faculty of Health, Southern Cross University, Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia.

Plotnikoff (ron.plotnikoff@newcastle.edu.au) is corresponding author.

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