A new study led by Trinity researchers has found that nearly 50 per cent of people are exercising more than they normally would during the coronavirus pandemic.
The national survey, which gathered data from around 1,500 people all over Ireland, reported that 46 per cent of people felt they were exercising more during the pandemic, while 28 per cent reported the opposite.
The survey also showed that 54 per cent of respondents were meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines, which equates to a minimum of 30 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity (enough to raise your breathing rate) on five days of the week.
This marks a 46 per cent improvement on the last Healthy Ireland Survey in 2019.
The survey was led by Dr Emer Barrett and Dr Cuisle Ford of Trinity’s Department of Physiotherapy.
In a press statement, Barrett said: “The really striking positive result from this survey is the finding that almost half of all people report that they are exercising more during the COVID-19 restrictions. People haven’t let the closure of gyms, classes or the 5 km distance restriction limit their ability to exercise and are finding new ways to be active.”
“It is very encouraging to see that there is a strong awareness of how physical activity can positively impact mental and physical health particularly at this time of crisis”, she said. “We need to understand the factors that have facilitated or motivated this increase in activity with a view to maintaining them once restrictions are lifted.”
Ford added: “What we have to focus on now is understanding the reasons why almost 30% of people reported exercising less than usual. Our research will allow us to identify whether the decline in their activity is as a result of cocooning, work commitments, or caring for children or dependent others.”
The survey also examined the motivations and barriers to exercise.
Among the findings were that nearly 90 per cent of people reported walking in the last seven days, while nearly 50 per cent of people have found new ways to be active since the restrictions were announced.
The survey also revealed that over 90 per cent of participants were physically active because it benefited their mental and physical health. Over 70 per cent felt that it was more important to exercise since the outbreak.
The main barrier to exercise was a person’s usual means of exercise being unavailable to them, with 20 per cent saying being unable to meet their friends was key. Some 20 per cent felt that an increased workload limited their ability to be physically active.
Most of the survey’s responses were received after May 5th, when the initial two-kilometre limit was widened to five kilometre.