Effects of COVID-19 Confinement on Physical Activity and Screen Time in Spanish Children
The COVID-19 outbreak began in December 2019 in China and was rapidly expanded globally. Emergency measures, such as social distance or home confinement, were adopted by many country governments to prevent its transmission. In Spain, one of the most affected countries, the schools were closed, and one of the most severe mandatory home confinement was established for children from 14th March to 26th April 2020. The hypothesis of this study was that the measures adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic may have negatively affected physical activity and screen time of children. However, few studies have examined the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on lifestyle behaviours. Thus, the aim of the current work was to analyse the effects of the COVID-19 confinement on physical activity and screen time in Spanish children. For the current purpose, a total of 113 children and adolescents (12.0 ± 2.6 yr., 51.3% boys, 24.0% with overweight/obesity according to the World Obesity Federation) of the MUGI project were included in the analyses. Physical activity and screen time were longitudinally assessed by 'The Youth Activity Profile' questionnaire (YAP). Differences in physical activity and screen time before and during the confinement were assessed by dependent t-test. Before the confinement, 60% did not meet physical activity recommendations ( ≥ 60/min/day of moderate to vigorous physical activity), and 61% used screens ≥ 2 h/day. During the COVID-19 confinement, children decreased their physical activity levels (-91 ± 55 min/day, p < 0.001) and increased screen time ( ± 2.6 h/day, p < 0.001). The prevalence of children that worsened physical activity and screen time during the COVID-19 confinement were 95.2% and 69.8%, respectively. The current study evidence the negative effects of the COVID-19 confinement on physical activity and screen time in Spanish children. These findings should be taken into account to develop and implement future public health strategies for preserving children's lifestyle behaviours and health during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.