Healthy movement behaviours in children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring the role of the neighbourhood environment


  • Changes in 11 different movement behaviours, sedentary activities and sleep during COVID-19 pandemic were explored.
  • Cluster analysis identified two groups, primarily distinguished by increased (44%) versus decreased (56%) outdoor activities.
  • More children/youth with increased outdoor activities were meeting the physical activity and 24-h movement guidelines.
  • For children, living in a house (vs. apartments) encouraged outdoor activities; proximity to major streets was a barrier.
  • For youth, low dwelling density, and access to parks in high-density neighbourhoods had positive effects.


This paper explores patterns of increased/ decreased physical activity, sedentary and sleep behaviours among Canadian children and youth aged 5-17 years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and examines how these changes are associated with the built environment near residential locations. A cluster analysis identified two groups who were primarily distinguished by the changes in outdoor activities. Compliance to 24-hour movement guidelines was low among both groups. For children, houses (versus apartments) was correlated with increased outdoor activities; proximity to major roads was a barrier. For youth, low dwelling density, and access to parks in high-density neighbourhoods, increased the odds of increased outdoor activities during the pandemic. Our findings can inform future urban and health crisis planning practices by providing new insights into the desirable public health messaging and characteristics of healthy and resilient communities.

Lead Researchers

Link to Publication


  1. Mark S. Tremblay

    Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

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