The Sports Institute

We work to expand participation and safety in sports.

COVID-19 and Physical Activity


Physical inactivity is a health crisis worsened by COVID-19. Before the first case of COVID-19 was announced in the United States, 80 percent of adults in the U.S. did not meet national Physical Activity Guidelines for exercise and 76 percent of children in the U.S. were insufficiently active every day. Those numbers have skyrocketed due to restrictions and facility closures caused by the pandemic. 

A 2021 study found regular physical activity may help protect against severe COVID-19, and a 2022 study found more physical activity is associated with higher well-being and quality of life regardless of age, as well as lower depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress, regardless of age.

Preview of our infographic Inactivity Hurts


We examined the positive effects of physical activity on mental and physical health through a comprehensive review of the latest research and examined how COVID-19 has changed physical activity routines and habits for adults and youth. We’ve also been monitoring the barriers and challenges the pandemic causes for daily physical activity, and this continues with the rolling nature of COVID-19’s presence. 

The pandemic has increased health disparities by race and ethnicity, and communities with lower socioeconomic status are often faced with more barriers to movement (closure of parks, suspended sports leagues, etc.), meaning those who are in greatest need for physical activity have the least amount of access to it. 

With this foundational knowledge, we are deepening our understanding of the importance of physical activity during the pandemic and leveraging our resources to create equitable and accessible solutions to help people get moving.

Where We Are

We’re working with Active Schools and King County Play Equity Coalition to amplify the need for accessible, equitable physical activity options for students during the school day.

We’ve created a fact sheet, infographic and Learning Center article to show the importance of physical activity, both generally and during the pandemic.

We’re organizing stakeholders in the medical community to recognize and advocate for exercise as a cornerstone for future healthcare policy and exploring opportunities to leverage technology for easier access to home-based exercise.

We’ve updated our Exercise Anywhere database to include free exercise apps and videos offered from popular brands during the pandemic.

We hosted the webinar Boost Your Immunity with Physical Activity featuring institute faculty Drs. Cindy Lin and Sara Chrisman. Watch it below to learn the importance of physical activity for youth and adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.