Ringing the bell for quality P.E.: What are the realities of remote physical education?

Publication Name

European journal of public health


BACKGROUND: To date, few data on the quality and quantity of online physical education (P.E.) during the COVID-19 pandemic have been published. We assessed activity in online classes and reported allocated curriculum time for P.E. in a multi-national sample of European children (6-18 years). METHODS: Data from two online surveys were analysed. A total of 8395 children were included in the first round (May-June 2020) and 24 302 in the second round (January-February 2021). RESULTS: Activity levels during P.E. classes were low in spring 2020, particularly among the youngest children and in certain countries. 27.9% of students did not do any online P.E. and 15.7% were hardly ever very active. Only 18.4% were always very active and 14.9% reported being very active quite often. In winter 2020, we observed a large variability in the allocated curriculum time for P.E. In many countries, this was lower than the compulsory requirements. Only 65.7% of respondents had the same number of P.E. lessons than before pandemic, while 23.8% had less P.E., and 6.8% claimed to have no P.E. lessons. Rates for no P.E. were especially high among secondary school students, and in large cities and megapolises. CONCLUSIONS: During the COVID-19 pandemic, European children were provided much less P.E. in quantity and quality than before the pandemic. Countermeasures are needed to ensure that these changes do not become permanent. Particular attention is needed in large cities and megapolises. The critical role of P.E. for students' health and development must be strengthened in the school system.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





First Page


Last Page




Link to publisher version (DOI)