Professor Tony Myers discusses the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on Physical Health

13/06/2022 by Leah Masters

Tony Myers

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns have had a profound impact on public health since the first detection of the virus in December 2019.

New research suggests that measures to combat the spread of the virus, such as national lockdowns, had an impact on the perceived physical function of the older population within the UK.

Tony Myers, Professor in Quantitative Methods at Newman University, in collaboration with Coventry University’s Centre for Sports, Exercise and Life Sciences, has conducted a study that explores the correlation between restrictions on physical movement during the pandemic, perceived physical function and the mood of older adults.

The study, conducted with 100 participants over the age of 70, included an in-depth observation of physical activity levels, through self-administered surveys at 3-month intervals between March 2020 and June 2021.

The study provided an important insight into how older adults reacted at different stages of restrictions and can be used by policy makers and practitioners to better understand the impact on and the needs of older adults during COVID-19.

Despite many participants experiencing an increase to their physical activity levels, through increased walking time and indoor exercise, it was found that physical function did decrease during the observation period. While physical activity levels were maintained, the surveys indicated a drop in the intensity of this exercise and this decrease combined with an increase in sedentary time, saw a decline in perceived physical function.

The study also indicated that participants experienced fluctuations in mood, akin to an ‘emotional rollercoaster’, in response to the introduction and withdrawal of various Covid-19 restrictions during the observation period.

Professor Myers commented, “Our research has shown the resilience of our older population, but also highlighted the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on how this group feels about their physical capabilities. This is important in helping us understand potential ongoing issues as well as how we may intervene to help mitigate against these, should there be future lockdowns.”

The study has just been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Experimental Gerontology, and is now available to read online.

Find out more about Professor Tony Myers’ research and teaching at Newman University.