The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on socioeconomic differences in physical activity behavior: Evidence from the Lifelines COVID-19 cohort study

Lifelines Corona Res Initiative, Willem I. J. de Boer*, Jochen O. Mierau, Jelle Schoemaker, Laura Viluma, Ruud H. Koning

*Corresponding author for this work

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Covid-19 and measures to contain spreading the disease have led to changed physical activity behavior. This study aims to investigate the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and changes in the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during the Covid-19 crisis. Using the Dutch Lifelines Covid-19 cohort study (n = 17,749), the amount of MVPA was measured at 15 time-points between March and December 2020, and compared with the amount before the Covid19 pandemic. For SES, the population was stratified in three education and income levels. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) and confidence interval (CI) of altered MVPA for low and high SES groups, with the middle SES category as the reference group. A clear socioeconomic gradient in changes in MVPA behavior was observed. Low educated individuals had significantly higher odds (OR = 1.14; CI: 1.03-1.27) of decreasing MVPA, while the high educated had significantly lower odds of decreased MVPA (OR = 0.84, CI: 0.79-0.90). Both low education (OR = 0.87; CI: 0.77-0.98) and low income (OR = 0.85; CI 0.78-0.92) had significantly lower odds to increase MVPA, while high education (OR = 1.21, CI: 1.12-1.30) and high income (OR = 1.17; CI: 1.07-1.28) had significantly higher odds to increase MVPA. Most findings were consistent over the full research period. Socioeconomic in-equalities in MVPA have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, even when Covid-19 containment measures were relaxed. Our findings suggest that future public health policies need to increase efforts to improve physical activity behavior with an even larger focus on low SES groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106823
Number of pages7
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2021


  • Physical activity
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Covid-19
  • Lifestyle behavior
  • Public health
  • Inequality

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