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Movement and meaning during COVID: Insights from a digital photo diary study

21 April 2021
3.00pm – 4.00pm AEST
This event has ended
photo of a women stretching on a yoga mat.


During the height of COVID lockdown, everyday routines and movement practices were dramatically disrupted. People generally moved their bodies less, as work from home routines took over. Fitness centres and gyms closed, and access to outdoor leisure spaces was constrained. In response, people created new movement routines, engaging with indoor and outdoor spaces, digital technologies, and everyday objects in new ways.

In this seminar, I draw from data collected through an experimental digital photo diary method to explore how Australians re-imagined movement in the context of the pandemic. I discuss the strengths of the digital photo diaries as a method for connecting with participants and accessing feelings and reflections on everyday life during the pandemic. Results reveal how both mundane movement practices and structured fitness routines were inseparable from the socio-material conditions of the pandemic, as well as people’s emotional responses to it. They also emphasise the importance of access to green and blue spaces for health and re-orient us to familiar but unresolved questions around who has access to such spaces and for whom are the mental and physical health benefits associated with physical activity most readily available.

Dr Marianne Clark is a postdoctoral fellow in the Vitalities Lab, Centre for Social Research in Health and the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. Her research encompasses the intersections between digital and physical cultures as well as socio-cultural perspectives of gender and health.