Lockdowns decrease children’s fitness, new study finds

20 May 2021

Written by: Zainab Arab

A new study conducted in Spain has found that strict lockdowns could explain delays in normal cardiorespiratory development in children.

A new study conducted in Spain has found that strict lockdowns could explain delays in normal cardiorespiratory development in children.

Spain underwent a strict lockdown in March 2020, in which all non-essential businesses were closed, as well as schools and workplaces.

Adults and children were not allowed to leave their homes except for essential reasons such as receiving medical care or very brief periods of exercise once daily.

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Spain studied a group of 89 school children during the strict six-week lockdown.

The children were required to undergo a fitness test to measure maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) before the COVID-19 pandemic and again in November 2020.

VO2 max uptake testing is a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness, levels are supposed to increase with adolescent age alongside physical growth and development.

The study found the children showed reductions rather than increases in VO2 max levels, as well as lower than normal rates of VO2 max rate development.

Dr Lee Smith of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), one of the lead researchers in the study said, “in our study, each age and sex subgroup showed lower levels in relation to normal VO2 max rate development”.

Healthy Fitness Zone levels a standard indictor used to measure general health and fitness based on age and sex, also dropped by 3.4%

Dr Smith expressed the importance of people being able to exercise adequately in future lockdowns.

“Regardless, if further lockdowns are necessary in the future, maintaining access to open spaces such as parks and sports facilities should certainly be considered, particularly for vulnerable groups such as adolescents,” he said.

 

Photo: Children_and exercise by JohnPatricia available HERE and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.