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Study: COVID-19 changes physical activity, screen time, and sleep among Swedish adolescents

Original Research By: Björg Helgadóttir, Andreas Fröberg, Karin Kjellenberg, Örjan Ekblom & Gisela Nyberg

Summarized By: Neurobit

In Sweden, even with mild restrictions, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted daily life. A study done by Björg Helgadóttir and colleagues (2023) aimed to investigate the effects of pandemic restrictions on physical activity (PA) patterns, screen time, and sleep among Swedish adolescents, with exposure variables including gender, parental education, anthropometrics, and cardiovascular fitness (CVF).

Data were collected from a cohort of 13-14-year-old (7th graders) participants at baseline (September 26th to December 6th, 2019) and follow-up (April 12th to June 9th, 2021), with 585 participants at both time points. PA and sedentary time were measured with accelerometers, while sleep and screen time were measured with questionnaires. Exposure variables were collected at baseline, and multilevel linear regression analyses were performed.

The study found that while moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) remained unchanged, light physical activity (LiPA) decreased, and sedentary time increased. Sleep duration decreased, and screen time increased. Girls, adolescents with overweight/obesity (BMI and percent body fat), and those with lower CVF at baseline experienced less favorable changes in PA patterns, sleep, and screen time.

Overall, the pandemic restrictions negatively affected LiPA, sedentary time, sleep, and screen time, with some groups being more vulnerable than others. The findings suggest the need for targeted interventions during the post-pandemic period and future pandemics, particularly for vulnerable groups.


Helgadóttir, B., Fröberg, A., Kjellenberg, K. et al. (2023). COVID-19 induced changes in physical activity patterns, screen time and sleep among Swedish adolescents - a cohort study. BMC Public Health, 23(1), 380.

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