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Changes in children’s physical fitness, BMI and health-related quality of life after the first 2020 COVID-19 lockdown in England: A longitudinal study

Basterfield, Laura; Burn, Naomi L; Galna, Brook; Batten, Hannah; Goffe, Louis; Karoblyte, Guoda; Lawn, Matt; Weston, Kathryn L.


Laura Basterfield

Naomi L Burn

Brook Galna

Hannah Batten

Louis Goffe

Guoda Karoblyte

Matt Lawn

Kathryn L. Weston


We aimed to assess one-year changes in physical fitness, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and body mass index (BMI), encompassing the 2020 COVID-19 UK lockdowns. Data were collected (October 2019, November 2020) from 178 8–10–year-olds in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, 85% from England’s most deprived quintile. Twenty-metre shuttle run test performance (20mSRT), handgrip strength (HGS), standing broad jump (SBJ), sit-and-reach, height, body mass, HRQoL (Kidscreen-27 questionnaire) and sports club participation were measured. BMI z-scores and overweight/obesity were calculated (≥85th centile). Paired t-tests and linear regression assessed change, adjusting for baseline BMI. Significant (p<0.001) changes were observed: increases in mean BMI (+1.5kg·m−2), overweight/obesity (33% to 47%), SBJ (+6.8cm) and HGS (+1.5kg); decreases in 20mSRT performance (−3 shuttles), sit-and-reach (−1.8cm). More children at follow-up were categorized “very low” for 20mSRT performance (35% baseline v 51%). Increased BMI z-score was associated with decreased “Physical Wellbeing” HRQoL. Follow-up sports club participation was associated with better 20mSRT performance (p=0.032), and “Autonomy & Parents” (p=0.011), “Social Support & Peers” (p=0.038) HRQoL. Children’s 20mSRT performance and BMI changed adversely over one year; national lockdowns potentially made negative contributions. Physical fitness, physical activity and sports programmes should be part of children’s physical and mental recovery from the pandemic.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 18, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 9, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Mar 24, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 24, 2022
Print ISSN 0264-0414
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 10
Pages 1088-1096
Keywords Aerobic, child health, socioeconomic status, public health
Public URL


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