Associations between Physical Activity, Sitting Time, and Time Spent Outdoors with Mental Health during the First COVID-19 Lock Down in Austria

Sandra Haider, Lee Smith, Lovro Markovic, Felipe B. Schuch, Kabir P. Sadarangani, Guillermo Felipe Lopez Sanchez, Rubén Lopez-Bueno, Alejandro Gil-Salmerón, Anita Rieder, Mark A. Tully, Lena Tschiderer, Lisa Seekircher, Peter Willeit, Igor Grabovac

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Measures implemented to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have resulted in a decrease in physical activity (PA) while sedentary behaviour increased. The aim of the present study was to explore associations between PA and mental health in Austria during COVID-19 social restrictions. In this web-based cross-sectional study (April-May 2020) moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), sitting time, and time spent outdoors were self-reported before and during self-isolation. Mental well-being was assessed with the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, and the Beck depression and anxiety inventories. The majority of the participants ( = 652) were female (72.4%), with a mean age of 36.0 years and a standard deviation (SD) of 14.4. Moreover, 76.5% took part in ≥30 min/day of MVPA, 53.5% sat ≥10 h/day, and 66.1% spent ≥60 min/day outdoors during self-isolation. Thirty-eight point five percent reported high mental well-being, 40.5% reported depressive symptoms, and 33.9% anxiety symptoms. Participating in higher levels of MVPA was associated with higher mental well-being (odds ratio = OR: 3.92; 95% confidence interval = 95%CI: 1.51-10.15), less depressive symptoms (OR: 0.44; 95%CI: 0.29-0.66) and anxiety symptoms (OR = 0.62; 95%CI: 0.41-0.94), and less loneliness (OR: 0.46; 95%CI: 0.31-0.69). Participants sitting
Original languageEnglish
Article number9168
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number17
Early online date31 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • COVID-19
  • physical activity
  • mental health
  • sitting time
  • Austria
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Sitting Position
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Exercise
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Physical activity
  • Mental health
  • Sitting time


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