View the Project on GitHub shelbysturrock/covfit

COVFIT study home page

PDF version of Information Letter and Consent Form for download

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our lives, including the time and spaces we had to be physically active. The purpose of this study is to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity levels among Canadian adults. The research is being conducted by Shelby Sturrock (PhD Student, University of Toronto) under the supervision of Drs. Dionne Gesink (University of Toronto) and Daniel Fuller (University of Saskatchewan).

Who is eligible to participate?
You are eligible to participate if you are 18 years of age or older and live in Canada.

What will your participation involve?
First, you will be asked to download the COVFIT study mobile application from the Apple App Store. All data collection will occur within the app.

If you decide to participate, you will be asked to provide access to your historic Apple Watch activity data (up until yesterday), including a log of your exercise minutes, energy expenditure, heart rate, step count, and distance travelled, as well as your daily activity goals, workout records and the number of hours you wore your Apple Watch each day. Location data will not be collected.

You will also be asked to complete a survey about you, your physical activity before and during the pandemic, as well as factors that may have influenced how your behaviour changed during this period.

It will take you less than 30 minutes to participate, including 15 minutes to complete the survey. You can stop and return to the app if you’d like to take a break before or during the survey. You can delete the mobile app from your iPhone once you complete the survey. You will not be paid or compensated for participating in this study.

How will we handle your data and protect your identity?
Your fitness and survey data will be collected anonymously and treated confidentially.

Data will be uploaded from the study app to a secure, password-protected and encrypted folder in Amazon S3 (Canada-Central). Data will be stored here for a maximum of 2 business days before it is transferred to Compute Canada servers for analysis and longer-term storage. Study data will be accessed using password-protected computers. All data will be retained indefinitely to maximize analysis of the data collected. Results of the study will be presented in presentations and publications in aggregate form to maintain confidentiality and anonymity.

Your participation is completely voluntary. You can refuse to participate. You can decline to answer any questions on the survey by skipping them. You can withdraw from the study by not sharing your fitness data or stopping the survey before it is complete. There are no negative consequences to withdrawing.

Please note that you will not be able to withdraw your fitness or survey data once it has been submitted. This is because we are not collecting your personal information, and therefore we won’t be able to identify your data in the database.

What are the risks?
Some of the survey questions are personal in nature and ask about your health, wellbeing and family life, which may raise complex emotions depending on your experiences. If you feel distressed or other uncomfortable emotions, you have the choice to stop participating, take a break, or continue. We have a list of community resources if you think you need additional help after completing the survey.

What are the benefits?
Although there are no direct benefits to you as an individual, your data will help us understand how physical activity levels of Canadian adults changed throughout the pandemic, as well as if/how trends over time differed between population groups (e.g., younger vs. older adults, those who experienced changes in their employment status or work environment, etc.). This will help us develop targeted programs aimed at increasing physical activity among groups that are more likely to remain impacted today.

Have questions about the study? Please contact the Principal Investigator, Shelby Sturrock, by email: or call: 416-978-5869

Have questions about the ethics? Please contact the Research Oversight and Compliance Office at or 416-946-3273.

What would you like to do?

  1. Consent to participate by selecting “Agree”.
  2. Choose not to participate by selecting “Cancel” or “Disagree”.

University of Toronto Contacts:

The Project:
Shelby Sturrock, University of Toronto,
Dionne Gesink, Professor, University of Toronto,
Daniel Fuller, Associate Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland,

The Ethics:
Office of Research Ethics, 416-946-3273,

Mental health resources:
• Hope for Wellness helpline (First Nations and Inuit): 1-855-242-3310
CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health): mental health and COVID-19
Government of Canada: mental health support
Government of Ontario: mental health resources