Active NZ first year COVID-19 survey results

April 2020 - April 2021

Effects of the first year COVID-19 pandemic on adult participation in Aotearoa: April 2020-April 2021

This Active NZ COVID-19 survey report focuses on changing participation throughout the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic from April 2020 through to April 2021, when New Zealand was in its first nationwide lockdown at Alert Level 1.

It shows changes in the key participation statistics by drawing on data collected from a cohort of 1,945 adults who completed all four phases of the Active NZ re-contact survey (April 2020, June 2020, September 2020 and April 2021), and who also took part in the main Active NZ survey at least once between 2017 and 2019.

Key findings

Adult participation has not rebounded to pre-COVID-19 levels.

  • Weekly participation has dropped by 3.4 percent
  • Average number of hours spent being physically active has dropped by 15.6 percent
  • Average number of sports and activities participated in has dropped by 22.1 percent
  • The proportion of adults meeting the physical activity guidelines has dropped by 8.3 percent
  • Variation is evident in the effects of COVID-19 by population sub-groups.

Key demographic differences

  • The first COVID-19 lockdown (April 2020) had an inequitable effect on both time spent being physically active as well as the number of activities and sports participated in
  • Those aged 18–24 and 65-plus, males, and those from highly deprived communities were more severely affected during the initial lockdown
  • Across the course of the pandemic (evident in all four waves of the re-contact survey), the effect on time spent being physically active and number of sports and activities participated in was more pronounced for those from highly deprived communities
  • The inequities across these two measures have subsequently (in April 2021) returned to pre pandemic levels.
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