Changes in Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Response to COVID-19 and Their Associations with Mental Health in 3052 US Adults

Jacob Meyer, Cillian McDowell, Jeni Lansing, Cassandra Brower, Lee Smith, Mark Tully, Matthew Herring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic altered many facets of life. We aimed to evaluate the impact of COVID-19-related public health guidelines on physical activity (PA), sedentary behavior, mental health, and their interrelations. Cross-sectional data were collected from 3052 US adults 3–8 April 2020 (from all 50 states). Participants self-reported pre-and post-COVID-19 levels of moderate and vigorous PA, sitting, and screen time. Currently-followed public health guidelines, stress, loneliness, positive mental health (PMH), social connectedness, and depressive and anxiety symptoms were self-reported. Participants were grouped by meeting US PA guidelines, reporting ≥8 h/day of sitting, or ≥8 h/day of screen time, pre-and post-COVID-19. Overall, 62% of participants were female, with age ranging from 18–24 (16.6% of sample) to 75+ (9.3%). Self-reported PA was lower post-COVID among participants reporting being previously active (mean change: −32.3% [95% CI: −36.3%, −28.1%]) but largely unchanged among previously inactive participants (+2.3% [−3.5%, +8.1%]). No longer meeting PA guidelines and increased screen time were associated with worse depression, loneliness, stress, and PMH (p < 0.001). Self-isolation/quarantine was associated with higher depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to social distancing (p < 0.001). Maintaining and enhancing physical activity participation and limiting screen time increases during abrupt societal changes may mitigate the mental health consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6469
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume17
Issue number18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • COVID
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Mental health
  • Physical activity
  • Public health
  • Screen time
  • Sedentary
  • Sitting time

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