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Pandemic Geographies of Physical Activity

Coen, Stephanie; Cook, Simon; Hayes, Samuel

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Simon Cook

Samuel Hayes


G.J. Andrews

V.A. Crooks

J.R. Pearce

J.P. Messina


Public health measures implemented to control COVID-19 (e.g., lock downs, social distancing) have dramatically changed the geographies of recreational physical activity, closing off traditional exercise places, and pushing people both inside homes and into outdoor spaces in new ways. This chapter problematizes geographies of physical activity in the time of COVID-19 by critically considering the implications of these changes for inequities in physical activity participation. We ask fundamentally whether physical activity even matters in pandemic times, and for whom? First, taking a critical public health perspective, we illustrate how exercise is being ‘weaponized’ against COVID-19 as a tool for the neoliberalization of health that downloads responsibility for COVID-19 prevention and management to a moral problem for individuals. Next, we consider early evidence about the effects of the pandemic on physical activity, which paints a mixed picture while largely indicating a continuation of inequitable trends. Finally, we demonstrate how a pandemic geography along an indoor (private)/outdoor (public) binary not only intensifies existing inequities in physical activity but crystallizes how participation is interconnected with wider social injustices.

Acceptance Date Nov 20, 2020
Online Publication Date Jun 20, 2021
Publication Date Jun 20, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 16, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 21, 2023
Publisher Springer
Pages 165-172
Series Title Global Perspectives on Health Geography
Book Title COVID-19 and Similar Futures: Pandemic Geographies
Chapter Number 21
ISBN 9783030701789
Public URL
Publisher URL


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