Lockdown or no, the Netherlands exercised more in 2020

Lockdown or no, the Netherlands exercised more in 2020

While many people said they exercised less as a result of the coronavirus and the ensuing lockdowns, research conducted by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) shows that, in reality, more people met fitness guidelines in 2020 than in 2019.

How did the Netherlands exercise in 2020?

Cast your mind back to last year, as the Netherlands entered its first lockdown - a new and foreign concept at the time - closing gyms and cancelling all fitness classes. This had a significant impact on people’s daily lives and fitness routines, with between 30 and 50 percent of people saying they exercised less during the coronavirus pandemic. 

In spite of this, however, the RIVM has found that 15 percent of people exercised more in 2020, with research revealing that more people complied with the government’s exercise guidelines in 2020 (53 percent) than in 2019 (49 percent). 

Government guidelines recommend at least 2,5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise a week, and strength exercises twice a week.

Working out during coronavirus

Last year, surveys conducted by the RIVM found that people exercised more regularly than in 2019. The proportion of people who admitted to exercising at least once a week was the same in 2020 as in the year before, but, on average, members of the public exercised three to four times a week in 2020 compared to just three times in 2019.

The lockdown also meant that people spent more time moving in and around their homes. Walking proved particularly popular, but the RIVM observed that time spent doing household chores and odd jobs such as working in your garden or clearing out your attic / basement was also considered exercise.

The RIVM notes that even those who claimed to spend less time exercising might have been too harsh on themselves - “People are sometimes not aware that they are moving,” explains researcher Wanda Wendel-Vos - but also emphasises that many people could not be contacted to take part in the survey as a result of COVID-19, and so the real figures could be slightly lower.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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