Claire-Marie Roberts and Jacky Forsyth
Jacky J. Forsyth, Lorna Makay, and Victoria Riley
The purpose of the current study was to explore, via interview, how and why women felt their physical activity levels and active lifestyles had been affected by COVID-19. Telephone interviews were conducted with 23 women, aged between 28 and 52 years from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds in the United Kingdom. Based on reflexive thematic analysis, the perceived reduction in exercise and the increase in sedentary behavior that many of these women experienced were felt to be a result of the physical restrictions imposed through gym and leisure-facility closure, the change in circumstance (both work and home life), the perceived risks associated with exercising during a pandemic, as well as a lack of peer support. In contrast, some women experienced increased opportunity and time to exercise, which they felt benefited their health. For any future pandemic-related restrictions, exercise practitioners should consider promoting exercise with others in a safe environment in order to ensure that women’s healthy exercise and lifestyle behaviors are maintained.