The Impact of COVID‐19‐Related Mitigation Measures on the Health and Fitness Status of Primary School Children in Austria: A Longitudinal Study with Data from 708 Children Measured before and during the Ongoing COVID‐19 Pandemic

Gerald Jarnig*, Reinhold Kerbl, Mireille N. M. van Poppel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The COVID‐19‐related closing of schools and sport facilities resulted in major changes to daily routines worldwide. It was the aim of this study to investigate the impact of COVID‐19‐related mitigation measures on the health and fitness status of primary school children in Austria. Seven hundred and eight primary school children (7–10 years old) participated in the longitudinal study. Data on height, weight, waist circumference, and fitness were collected before (September 2019) and during the course of the COVID‐19 pandemic (20 June, 20 September, 21 March, 21 June). A significant increase in EQUI BMIAUT (ⴄp2 = 0.087) and significant changes (ⴄp2 = 0.355) in waist circumference were found. Cardiorespiratory endurance (ⴄp2 = 0.440) and action speed (ⴄp2 = 0.221) decreased dramatically following lockdowns/school closures. In contrast, muscle strength showed no significant changes. The COVID‐19‐related mitigation measures intended to contain a communicable disease resulted in an acceleration of the pre‐existing pandemic of overweight and obesity. The adverse combination of increasing BMI and the loss of physical fitness is likely to result in long‐term negative effects on the health status of growing and developing individuals. Health professionals should therefore not only support further longitudinal observations of this “non‐communicable disease” but also support intervention programs to reverse this worrying side‐effect of COVID‐19‐associated containment policies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalSports (Basel, Switzerland)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

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