Homes became the “everything space” during COVID-19: impact of changes to the home environment on children’s physical activity and sitting

Michael P. R. Sheldrick*, Nils J. Swindell, Amie B. Richards, Stuart J. Fairclough, Gareth Stratton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Abstract: Background: During the 2020 UK COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, children spent almost all of their time at home, which had a significant influence on their physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviour. This study aimed to: 1) determine changes to the social and physical environment at home and children’s home-based sitting, PA, standing and sitting breaks as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions; and 2) examine associations between changes at home and children’s movement behaviours. Methods: One hundred and two children had their PA and sitting, standing and sitting breaks at home objectively measured pre-COVID-19 and during the first COVID-19 lockdown (June-July 2020). Children’s parents (n = 101) completed an audit of their home physical environment and a survey on the home social environment at both time points. Changes in the home physical and social environment and behavioural outcomes were assessed using Wilcoxon signed ranked tests, paired t-tests, or chi-square. Repeated linear regression analyses examined associations between changes in homes and changes in the home-based behavioural outcomes. Results: During COVID-19, households increased the amount of seated furniture and electronic media equipment at home. The number of books and PA equipment decreased and fewer parents enforced a screen-time rule. Children’s preference for physical activities and socialising at home decreased. Time at home and sitting at home increased during COVID-19, whilst PA, standing and sitting breaks decreased. Both MVPA and TPA were positively associated with child preference for PA, and negatively associated with attending school. Sitting was negatively associated with child preference for PA and child preference for socialising at home. Media equipment was negatively associated with sitting breaks, whilst PA equipment was positively associated with standing. Conclusion: The COVID-19 restrictions forced children to spend almost all their time at home. Children’s PA, standing, and sitting breaks at home declined during the restrictions, while sitting increased. Mostly negative changes occurred in homes, some of which impacted children’s behaviours at home. To avoid the changes persisting post-lockdown, interventions are needed to reset and promote children’s PA and discourage prolonged sitting time.
Original languageEnglish
Article number134
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Early online date21 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Oct 2022


  • Research
  • Sedentary behaviour
  • Family
  • Home-based
  • Pandemic
  • House
  • Accelerometers
  • Youth


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