Youth physical activity and the COVID-19 pandemic: A systematic review

Bridgette Do, Chelsey Kirkland, Gina M. Besenyi, M. P.H. Carissa Smock, Kevin Lanza

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The purpose of the systematic review was to identify, evaluate, and synthesize evidence from available published literature examining the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on youth physical activity (PA). A systematic review of the literature was conducted for years 2020–2021. Published articles were searched in eight databases. Inclusion criteria included: availability of full-text, written in English language, and reported quantitative or qualitative results of original or secondary data on PA and COVID-19 related factors among youth (ages 5–17 years). A standard quality assessment tool assessed risk of bias and quality of included articles. The search retrieved 2,899 articles with 51 articles ultimately meeting inclusion criteria. The majority of articles (65 %) investigated change in PA from before to during the pandemic. Most evidence indicated an overall decrease in youth PA levels during the pandemic with differences observed among sub-populations (e.g., age, sex or gender), type, and location. Findings suggest pandemic-related closures hindered PA participation due to a high reliance on school- and sport-based PA. Programmatic strategies (e.g., activity breaks, active curriculum, free online activities/lessons) should include aligning intervention measures and geared towards evolving and ongoing PA promotion based on the latest findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101959
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)


  • Adolescents
  • COVID-19
  • Children
  • Exercise

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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