Effects of COVID-19 Lockdown on Physical Activity and Health-Related Quality of Life in Older Adults Who Regularly Exercise
The aim of the study was to analyze the effect of social distancing on physical activity (PA) and Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) in active Spanish older adults according to their physical functionality. The study included 58 older adults aged 76.24 ± 6.00 years who were enrolled in a supervised physical exercise program before the COVID-19 outbreak. Anthropometric, physical function, physical activity and HRQoL were measured at baseline (October 2019). After the two-month lockdown due
... onth lockdown due to the COVID-19, questionnaires were collected again during de-escalation (May 2020). Participants were divided into high- (n = 29) and low-functionality (n = 29) groups. Total PA, walking and cleaning significantly decreased (p < 0.001) whilst exercising or dancing increased (p < 0.001). General health, social and emotional role functioning dimensions and overall mental component scores worsened (p < 0.01–p < 0.05). Low-functionality participants had significantly lower physical functioning scores at baseline (p < 0.01) and lower bodily pain scores at de-escalation (p < 0.01). Emotional role functioning dimension and overall mental component significantly decreased only in low-functionality participants (p < 0.05). Although PA levels decreased significantly, older adults continued being active regardless of their functionality. While mental HRQoL in participants with higher physical functionality remained unchanged, participants with lower functional capacity had a higher risk of mental health concerns. Therefore, attention should focus on strategies to mitigate the negative effects of distancing measures on older people's mental health, especially in those with lower functionality.