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Background The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the entire world population. During the first spread, most governments have implemented quarantine and strict social distancing procedures. Similar measures during recent pandemics resulted in an increase in post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression symptoms. The development of novel interventions to mitigate the mental health burden are of utmost importance. Objective In this rapid review, we aimed to provide a systematic overview of the literature with regard to associations between physical activity (PA) and depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data Source We searched major databases (PubMed, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science) and preprint servers (MedRxiv, SportRxiv, ResearchGate, and Google Scholar), for relevant papers up to 25/07/2020. Study Eligibility Criteria We included observational studies with cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. To qualify for inclusion in the review, studies must have tested the association of PA with depression or anxiety, using linear or logistic regressions. Depression and anxiety must have been assessed using validated rating scales. Study Appraisal and Synthesis Methods Effect sizes were represented by fully adjusted standardized betas and odds ratios (OR) alongside 95% confidence intervals (CI). In case standardized effects could not be obtained, unstandardized effects were presented and indicated. Results We identified a total of 21 observational studies (4 longitudinal, 1 cross-sectional with retrospective analysis, and 16 cross-sectional), including information of 42,293 (age 6–70 years, median female = 68%) participants from five continents. The early evidence suggests that people who performed PA on a regular basis with higher volume and frequency and kept the PA routines stable, showed less symptoms of depression and anxiety. For instance, those reporting a higher total time spent in moderate to vigorous PA had 12–32% lower chances of presenting depressive symptoms and 15–34% of presenting anxiety. Conclusion Performing PA during Covid-19 is associated with less depression and anxiety. To maintain PA routines during Covid-19, specific volitional and motivational skills might be paramount to overcome Covid-19 specific barriers. Particularly, web-based technologies could be an accessible way to increase motivation and volition for PA and maintain daily PA routines.
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Vol.:(0123456789)
Sports Medicine (2021) 51:1771–1783
https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-021-01468-z
SYSTEMATIC REVIEW
Is Physical Activity Associated withLess Depression andAnxiety
During theCOVID‑19 Pandemic? ARapid Systematic Review
SebastianWolf1,2 · BrittaSeier1,2· Johanna‑MarieZeibig1,2· JanaWelkerling1,2· LuisaBrokmeier3·
BeatriceAtrott1,2· ThomasEhring4· FelipeBarretoSchuch5
Accepted: 1 April 2021 / Published online: 22 April 2021
© The Author(s) 2021
Abstract
Background The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the entire world population. During the first spread, most governments
have implemented quarantine and strict social distancing procedures. Similar measures during recent pandemics resulted in
an increase in post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression symptoms. The development of novel interventions to mitigate
the mental health burden are of utmost importance.
Objective In this rapid review, we aimed to provide a systematic overview of the literature with regard to associations
between physical activity (PA) and depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data Source We searched major databases (PubMed, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science) and preprint servers
(MedRxiv, SportRxiv, ResearchGate, and Google Scholar), for relevant papers up to 25/07/2020.
Study Eligibility Criteria We included observational studies with cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. To qualify for
inclusion in the review, studies must have tested the association of PA with depression or anxiety, using linear or logistic
regressions. Depression and anxiety must have been assessed using validated rating scales.
Study Appraisal and Synthesis Methods Effect sizes were represented by fully adjusted standardized betas and odds ratios
(OR) alongside 95% confidence intervals (CI). In case standardized effects could not be obtained, unstandardized effects
were presented and indicated.
Results We identified a total of 21 observational studies (4 longitudinal, 1 cross-sectional with retrospective analysis, and 16
cross-sectional), including information of 42,293 (age 6–70years, median female = 68%) participants from five continents.
The early evidence suggests that people who performed PA on a regular basis with higher volume and frequency and kept the
PA routines stable, showed less symptoms of depression and anxiety. For instance, those reporting a higher total time spent in
moderate to vigorous PA had 12–32% lower chances of presenting depressive symptoms and 15–34% of presenting anxiety.
Conclusion Performing PA during Covid-19 is associated with less depression and anxiety. To maintain PA routines during
Covid-19, specific volitional and motivational skills might be paramount to overcome Covid-19 specific barriers. Particularly,
web-based technologies could be an accessible way to increase motivation and volition for PA and maintain daily PA routines.
* Sebastian Wolf
sebastian.wolf@uni-tuebingen.de
1 Department ofPsychology, Institute ofClinical Psychology
andPsychotherapy, University ofTuebingen, Tuebingen,
Germany
2 Institute ofSport Science, Department ofEducation &
Health Research, University ofTuebingen, Tuebingen,
Germany
3 Mannheim Institute ofPublic Health, Mannheim Medical
Faculty, University ofHeidelberg, Mannheim, Germany
4 Department ofPsychology, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany
5 Department ofSports Methods andTechniques, Federal
University ofSanta Maria, SantaMaria, Brazil
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1772 S.Wolf et al.
Key Points
The Covid-19 pandemic increased symptoms of anxiety
and depression symptoms. Those reporting a higher total
time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity, had
12–32% lower chances of presenting depressive symp-
toms and 15–34% of presenting anxiety.
The promotion of physical activity habits and routines
might be a cost-effective and comprehensive worldwide
applicable strategy to overcome the severe gap between
people in need and people receiving mental health care,
especially in low-income countries with even non-exist-
ing mental health supplies.
Web-based technologies might be promising tools to
increase motivation and volition for PA and maintain
daily physical activity routines even under pandemic-
specific barriers. However, there is a clear need for more
systematic research for effectively and safely usable apps
or web-based programs to prevent psychiatric disorders
through physical activity.
1 Introduction
With 106,125,682 confirmed cases all over the world (up to
February 10th, 2021), COVID-19 is a global public health
emergency. COVID-19 is characterized by a fast human-to-
human transmission through droplet or close contact. Given
the lack of appropriate treatments and vaccines during the
early stage of the pandemic, many countries implemented
procedures recommended by the World Health Organization
(WHO) [1], such as the isolation of symptomatic patients,
quarantining individuals with the history of contact with
COVID-19 infected persons, and further anti-contagion poli-
cies such as mandatory stay at home or business closures.
Those anti-contagion policies substantially reduced expo-
nential growth rates [2, 3].
Quarantine and social distancing measures had already
been successfully enforced during earlier pandemics, such
as the 2003 outbreak of SARS and the 2014 outbreak of
Ebola [4]. However, studies on the effects of these measures
have reported elevated symptoms of anxiety, post-traumatic
stress, and depressive disorders, as well as a 30% higher
suicide rates in populations impacted by these measures [5,
6]. These findings are being replicated during the Covid-19
pandemic with multiple studies reporting elevated preva-
lences of depression and anxiety [711].
Notably psychiatric disorders result in a considerable
burden of disease, accounting for 6.7% of overall disa-
bility-adjusted life years [12] and being attributable to
14.3% of death worldwide [13]. Despite the high burden
of psychiatric disorders, there is a severe gap between peo-
ple in need and people receiving mental health care [14].
This general treatment gap is especially severe in low- and
middle-income countries, where 76–85% of people with
mental disorders do not receive any treatment [15]. The
latest WHO “mental health Atlas” indicates that only 95.6
out of 100 000 depressed cases worldwide receive any
professional mental health care, whereas the treatment
prevalence in high-income countries is 16-times higher
compared to low-income countries [16]. Although there
is no current global data available, the treatment gap is
assumed to be much higher during or after the Covid-19
pandemic. Access to general mental health care might be
restricted for several reasons, including supply priorities
that being focused on Covid-19 infections, medication
shortages, prohibition of face-to-face psychotherapeutic
sessions of psychological treatment, closing of inpatient
facilities to mention only some reasons. Indeed, current
international position papers point out a clear need to
adapt and improve mental health services worldwide due
to these specific challenges during and after the pandemic
[17, 18]. To mitigate the negative mental health conse-
quences of pandemics, evidence suggests that policymak-
ers should ensure quarantine measures to be as short as
possible, to provide adequate general supplies for basic
needs, give people as much information as possible and
strengthen social support and communication among peo-
ple affected by the pandemic [4]. A recently published
position paper on research priorities for mental health
science regarding COVID-19 [18] demands the interdis-
ciplinary development of novel interventions to protect
mental wellbeing by mechanistically based approaches to
strengthen altruism and prosocial behavior. Among oth-
ers, physical activity (PA) interventions are highlighted
as a promising approach. PA is defined as any bodily
movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in
energy expenditure and exercise is defined as PA, which is
planned, structured, and repetitive, with the primary aim
to improve or maintain physical fitness [19]. International
PA guidelines recommend 150min of moderate or 75min
of vigorous intensity PA per week for optimal physical and
mental health benefits [20]. Indeed, in pre-pandemic times
PA has been identified as a protective factor against inci-
dent depression [21] and anxiety [22]. However, decreased
levels of PA were observed in the general population in
multiple countries [11, 23, 24] during the pandemic. This
rapid systematic review aims to outline current evidence
regarding the associations of PA and exercise with depres-
sion and anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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1773
Association of Physical Activity with Depression and Anxiety During COVID-19
2 Methods
In this rapid review, we sought for observational stud-
ies examining the associations of PA and depression and
anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Inclusion criteria
were: (1) observational studies in any population, includ-
ing cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. Longitudinal
studies could be either prospective or retrospective; (2)
studies have tested the association of PA with depression
or anxiety, using linear or logistic regressions; (3) depres-
sion and anxiety were assessed using validated screening
or diagnostic tools. We excluded opinion pieces, system-
atic reviews, and studies addressing other viruses.
We searched the electronic databases PubMed,
EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science using the
following strategy: (physical activity OR exercise OR
sport) AND (coronavirus OR sars-cov-2 OR COVID* OR
severe acute respiratory syndrome OR pandemic) AND
(depression OR anxiety OR mental health). Preprints
were searched in MedRxiv, SportRxiv, and SciELO Pre-
prints using the following strategy: “(physical activity OR
exercise) AND (coronavirus OR sars-cov-2 OR COVID*
OR severe acute respiratory syndrome OR pandemic)”.
Additional hand searches were performed on COVID-19
online repositories on ResearchGate and Google Scholar.
Searches were made by an experienced reviewer (FS) on
29th July, 2020. Study selection was conducted in three
steps: (1) duplicates removal; (2) screening at the title and
abstract level; and (3) assessment based on full-text. The
selection was made by one reviewer (FS). Data extraction
of selected studies was then performed by three research-
ers (FS, BS, SW). Data extracted were: author and year,
country of the included sample, study design, sample size,
age group of the sample included, when possible, mean
or range of age sample, % of women, instrument/ques-
tion used to assess PA levels, instruments used to assess
depression and anxiety, publication type and statistical out-
comes (regression standardized beta coefficients and odd’s
ratios). If they were indicated in the report, fully adjusted
coefficients and odd’s ratios were extracted. As studies
included in this review used very heterogeneous statisti-
cal approaches, a meta-analysis could not be conducted.
Instead, we summarized the evidence and presented effect
sizes [betas and odds ratios (OR)] with confidence inter-
vals and indicated significant associations between PA and
depression or anxiety, separately (see Table2). In case the
study just reported the unstandardized betas, we requested
the standardized betas by e-mail. If standardized effects
could not be obtained, unstandardized effects were pre-
sented and indicated. The risk of bias of individual studies
was assessed using the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
study quality assessment tool for observational cohort and
cross-sectional studies [25]. The NIH tool assessment is
composed by 14 questions the risk of potential selection
bias, information bias measurement bias or confounding
bias. There are three options (yes, no, other) for each ques-
tion. Each “no” or “other” is suggestive of the presence of
some risk of bias. Questions #6 (exposure prior outcome),
#7 (sufficient time to see an effect), #10 (repeated exposure
assessment), and #13 (follow-up rate) were disregarded for
cross-sectional studies. Due to the self-reported nature of
the assessments, question #12 (blinding of outcome asses-
sors) was also disregarded for all studies.
3 Results
Searches on PubMed, EMBASE, Sportdiscus, and Web of
Science resulted in 592 potentially relevant studies. Pre-
print databases identified additional 572 potentially relevant
studies. A flow-chart of the selection process is provided in
Fig.1. Of the identified studies, 21 studies meet the criteria
[7, 8, 11, 2643]. Four studies had a prospective longitudinal
design [29, 32, 39, 42], 1 was a cross-sectional study with
a retrospective measure of the exposure factor (henceforth
treated as retrospective) [7], and 16 were cross-sectional
studies [8, 11, 2628, 3038, 40, 41, 43, 44]. A total of 7
studies were conducted in Asia [27, 28, 30, 33, 36, 42, 43],
6 in Europe [11, 29, 34, 35, 38, 39], 3 in South America [8,
31, 32], 3 in North America [7, 26, 37], 1 in Oceania [41]
and 1 study included a multinational sample [40].
Data form a total of 42,293 (median = 68% of women)
participants were included. Only 1 study was exclusively
composed by older adults (over 50years), 4 were in chil-
dren, adolescents, or young adults, while 13 studies were in
adults (over 18). Only 7 studies used validated measures to
assess PA levels. A wide range of scales to measure depres-
sion or anxiety were used, the most used scales being the
Beck Depression and Anxiety inventory and the DASS-21.
Most studies (n = 14) were peer-reviewed, seven studies were
published as preprints. A summary of studies is provided
in Table1.
Results are summarized and presented in Table2. Out of
ten studies reporting analyses on the association between the
overall volume of PA and depression, seven studies showed
that more PA is significantly associated with less depres-
sion symptoms [26, 28, 30, 35, 36, 38, 40], and three out of
nine studies investigating the association between the overall
volume of PA and anxiety symptoms showed that more PA
is significantly associated with less anxiety symptoms [28,
35, 38]. Three out of six studies reported higher frequencies
of PA to be significantly associated with less depression [30,
32, 39] and two out of five studies to be significantly associ-
ated with less anxiety [30, 32]. One study showed that vig-
orous but not moderate PA is significantly associated with
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1774 S.Wolf et al.
less depression and anxiety symptoms [8] and another study
indicated that light and vigorous PA is significantly corre-
lated with less depression, but moderate intensity was not
[26]. Out of four studies assessing an association between
regular and guideline-consistent PA and depression and
anxiety symptoms, two studies demonstrate that regular PA
(compared to not regular) is significantly associated with
less depression and anxiety symptoms [30, 33]. One study
demonstrated that guideline conforming moderate to vig-
orous PA is associated with lower odds of depression and
anxiety [8]. Five out of six studies showed that a decrease
in PA during the pandemic was significantly associated with
more depression symptoms [7, 11, 30, 41, 43] and three out
of six studies showed that a decrease in PA was significantly
Fig. 1 PRISMA flow-chart of
the screening and selection of
studies
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1775
Association of Physical Activity with Depression and Anxiety During COVID-19
Table 1 Characteristics of included studies
Author Country Design Type NAge group (years) % females PA assessment MH assessment
Bauer etal. [11] Germany Cross-sectional Preprint 3,700 Adults (M = 33.13) 78.6 BSA-F PHQ-9; GAD-7
Callow etal. [26] US Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 1,046 Older adults (< 50) 80 PASE GDS; GAS
Chen etal. [27] China Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 1,036 Children/adolescents (R = 6–15) 48.7 NR DSRS-C;
SCARED
Chen etal. [28] Iran Cross-sectional Preprint 474 Adults (R = 20–70) 51.3 Single item
(hours/day)
PHQ-2; GAD-2
Cheval etal. [29] France, Switzer-
land
Longitudinal
(retrospective
and prospec-
tive)
peer-Reviewed 110 Adults (M = 43) 68 IPAQ PROMIS (adapted
questions for
depression and
anxiety)
Deng etal. [30] China Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 1,607 Adolescents/young adults (NR) 35.2 Multiple items
(duration,
frequency)
DASS-21
Filgueiras and
Stultz-Kole-
hmainen [32]
Brazil Cross-sectional Preprint 1,460 Adults (M = 32.9) 72.87 Single item
(frequency)
FDI; SSTAI
Filgueiras and
Stultz-Kole-
hmainen [31]
Brazil Longitudinal
(prospective)
Preprint 360 Adults (M = 37.9) 68.8 Multiple items
(frequency,
type)
FDI; SSTAI
Fu etal. [33] China Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 1,242 Adults (NR) 69.7 NR PHQ-9; GAD-7
Fullana etal.
[34]
Spain Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 5,545 Adults (M = 47) 73 NR PHQ-9; GAD-7
Jacob etal. [35] UK Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 902 Adults (NR) 63.8 Multiple items
(duration/day,
intensity)
BDI; BAI
Khan etal. [36] Bangladesh Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 505 Adolescents/young adults 37.3 NR DASS-21
Lebel etal. [37] Canada Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 1,987 Adults (M = 32.4) 100 Godin Shephard
Leisure-Time
Exercise Scale
EPDS; PROMIS
anxiety
Meyer etal. [7] US Longitudinal
(retrospective)
Peer-reviewed 3,052 Adults (NR) 62 Multiple items
(duration/day,
intensity)
BDI; BAI
Moreira etal.
[38]
Portugal Cross-sectional Preprint 1,280 Adults (M = 37.1) 79.8 Single item
(duration/day,
intensity)
DASS-21
Planchuelo-
Gómez etal.
[39]
Spain Cross-Sectional PEER-reviewed 1,056 Adults (M = 32.1) 67.6 NR DASS-21
Plomecka etal.
[40]
Multiple (12
countries)
Cross-sectional Preprint 12,817 Adults (NR) 72.3 NR BDI
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1776 S.Wolf et al.
associated with more anxiety symptoms [11, 30, 41]. One
study reported that an increase in PA was associated with
less depressive symptoms [42].
The risk of bias of individual studies is presented in
Table3. All studies clearly defined their research questions
and used valid tools to assess main outcomes. Among the
cross-sectional studies, 11 (68.75%) studies did not report
the participation rate or included less than 50% of eligi-
ble participants, and 13 (81.25%) did not use valid tools
to assess the exposure measure. A total of three out of five
(60%) longitudinal studies are at risk of bias in the evaluat-
ing the definition of the study population, the participation
rate, the validity of the exposure measure and in the reten-
tion of the sample.
4 Discussion
The present study is, to the best of our knowledge, the
first study to summarize the evidence on the associations
of PA with depression and anxiety during the COVID-19
pandemic. The majority of studies included in the present
review showed that those who performed PA on a regular
basis with higher volume and frequency and kept the PA
routines stable, showed less symptoms of depression and
anxiety. There was consistent evidence that those who could
not keep their PA routine stable during the pandemic showed
more depression and anxiety symptoms [7, 11, 30, 4143].
However, the association was more consistent regarding
depressive compared to anxiety symptoms. Those reporting
a higher total time spent in moderate to vigorous PA had
12% to 32% lower chances of presenting depressive symp-
toms and 15–34% of presenting anxiety. These findings are
in line with results of recent meta-analyses showing that
those with higher PA levels were 17% less likely of develop-
ing depression [21] and 26% less likely to develop anxiety
[22] independently of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, the observed reduction in PA behavior during
COVID-19 specific conditions is highly expected. For
example, due to social distancing, exercising in a group
setting was limited or completely prohibited. However,
high social support is associated with more engagement
in PA [45]. Indeed, social support was one of the strongest
factors associated with adherence to PA in effective exer-
cise interventions [46]. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pan-
demic impaired opportunities to be physically active due
to the closure of sports clubs, gyms, or common indoor
and outdoor places for PA. While some people were still
allowed to do exercises like jogging on the streets, others
were not [47]. In general, a lack of sporting opportuni-
ties seems to be associated with reduced PA [48]. Further
negative consequences of the pandemic such as financial
insecurities might have caused stress in individuals and
AAS Active Australia Survey, BASF-F The Physical Activity Exercise, and Sport Questionnaire, DASS-21 Depression and Anxiety Scale 21 items, DSRS-C Depression Self-Rating Scale for
Children, EPDS Edinburgh Depression Scale, FDI Filgueira depression inventory, GAD-7 Generalized Anxiety Screener 7, GAS Geriatric Anxiety Scale, GDS Geriatric Depression Scale, IPAQ
International Physical ACTIVITY Questionnaire, M mean, MH mental health, n number of participants, NR not reported, PA physical activity, PAVS physical activity vital sign, PASE Physical
Activity Scale for the Eldery, PHQ-9 Patient Health Questionnaire 9, PROMIS Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System, R range, SASC Social Anxiety Scale for Children,
SCARED Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders, SSTAI The Spielberg State and Trait Anxiety Inventory
Table 1 (continued)
Author Country Design Type NAge group (years) % females PA assessment MH assessment
Schuch etal. [8] Brazil Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 937 Adults (NR) 72.3 Multiple items
(duration/day,
intensity)
BDI; BAI
Stanton etal.
[41]
Australia Cross-sectional Peer-reviewed 1,491 Adults (M = 50.5) 67 AAS DASS-21
Zhang etal. [42] China Longitudinal
(prospective)
Peer-reviewed 66 Adolescents/adults (M = 20.7) 62.1 IPAQ DASS-21
Zheng etal. [43] China Cross-sectional Preprint 1,620 Children/adolescents (M = 10.1) 47.8 Single item
(decrease since
Covid)
DSRS-C; SASC
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1777
Association of Physical Activity with Depression and Anxiety During COVID-19
Table 2 Main results of multiple linear and logistic regressions analyzing the association of physical activity or exercise with symptoms of
depression or anxiety in the included studies
Author Predictor Depressive symptoms Anxiety symptoms
Beta (95% CI) OR (95% CI) Beta (95% CI) OR (95% CI)
Volume
Bauer etal. [11] EX (minutes/
week)
0.00# (NR;
NR)
0.01# (NR;
NR)
Callow etal. [26] PA (PASE score) − 0.22***
(NR; NR)
− 0.02 (NR;
NR)
Chen etal. [28] EX (hours/day) 0.68* (0.47; 0.97) 0.66* (0.45;
0.96)
Deng etal. [30]EX (> 60min/
day;
Ref: < 60min/
day))
− 0.08***
(NR;NR)
− 0.05 (NR;
NR)
Cheval etal. [29] PA (minutes/day) NR# (NR; NR) NR# (NR; NR)
Jacob etal. [35] EX (minutes/
day)
0.88° (0.8; 0.97) 0.85° (0.79;
0.97)
Khan etal.[36] EX (any amount; − 2.1* (− 4.02;
− 0.17)a
− 0.55 (− 1.92;
0.82)a
Ref.: No EX)
Moreira etal. [38] EX (hours) − 1.17° (NR;
NR)a
− 0.81°(NR;
NR)
Plomecka etal. [40]EX (> 15min/
day;
− 0.13***
(NR; NR)
NR# (NR; NR)
Ref.: ≤ 15min/
day, < 60min/
day)
EX (≥ 60min/
day;
− 0.15***
(− 0.18;
− 0.12)
NR# (NR; NR)
Ref.: ≤ 15min/
day)
Schuch etal. [8] PA (minutes/
day; per 10min
increase)
− 0.03 (− 0.1;
0.03)
− 0.05 (− 0.13;
0.02)
Frequency
Deng etal. [30] EX (1 to 2
times/week;
Ref: < 1x/week)
− 0.11***
(NR; NR)
− 0.09** (NR;
NR)
EX (> 2
times/week;
Ref: < 1x/week)
− 0.15***
(NR; NR)
-0.12** (NR;
NR)
EX (every day;
Ref: < 1x/week)
− 0.11***
(NR; NR)
-0.09* (NR;
NR)
Filgueiras and Stultz-Kolehmainen [32] EX (frequency/
week)
− 2.68** (NR;
NR)a
− 1.64***
(NR; NR)a
Fullana etal. [34] EX (Unclear) 0.93 (NR; NR) 0.95 (NR; NR)
Lebel etal. [37] EX (Godin
Shephard
Leisure-Time
Exercise Score)
− 0.01* (NR;
NR)
0.99 (0.99; 0.99) − 0.01** (NR;
NR)
0.99 (0.99; 1.0)
Planchuelo-Gómez etal. [39] EX (1–2 times/
week; Ref.: No
EX)
− 0.17 (NR;
NR)a
EX (3–5 times/
week; Ref.: No
EX)
− 0.85* (NR;
NR)a
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1778 S.Wolf et al.
Table 2 (continued)
Author Predictor Depressive symptoms Anxiety symptoms
Beta (95% CI) OR (95% CI) Beta (95% CI) OR (95% CI)
EX (6–7 times/
week; Ref.: No
EX)
− 1.29***
(NR; NR)a
Filgueiras and Stultz-Kolehmainen
[31]
EX (frequency/
week)
NR# (NR; NR) NR# (NR; NR)
Intensity
Callow etal. [26] Light PA (PASE
score)
0.12** (NR;
NR)
Moderate PA
(PASE score)
− 0.01 (NR;
NR)
Vigorous PA
(PASE score)
0.09* (NR;
NR)
Schuch etal., 2020 [8] Vigorous PA
(minutes/day)
− 0.19*
(− 0.34;
− 0.04)
0.6** (0.44; 0.83) − 0.22* (− 0.4;
− 0.03)
0.71** (0.52;
0.96)
Moderate PA
(minutes/day)
0.00 (− 0.09;
0.09)
0.77 (0.57; 1.02) − 0.03 (− 0.14;
0.08)
0.75 (0.58; 1)
Regular/guideline conforming
Chen etal. [27] EX (regular; 0.37 (NR; NR)b0.43 (NR; NR)b
Ref.: not regular)
Deng etal. [30] EX (regular; − 0.2*** (NR;
NR)
− 0.14***
(NR; NR)
Ref.: not regular)
Fu etal. [33] EX (not regular; 1.71*** (1.28; 2.29) 1.45* (1.08;
1.93)
Schuch etal. [8]PA (≥ 30min/
day;
Ref.: < 30min/
day)
0.72* (0.54; 0.96) 0.72* (0.54;
0.96)
Change
Bauer etal. [11] EX (less; equal;
more)c
− 0.08***
(NR; NR)
− 0.05***
(NR; NR)
Deng etal. [30] EX (no change;
Ref.: large
change)
− 0.27***
(NR; NR)
− 0.21***
(NR; NR)
EX (little change;
Ref.: large
change)
− 0.22***
(NR; NR)
− 0.17***
(NR; NR)
Filgueiras etal. [31] EX (none,
increase,
decrease)
NR# (NR; NR) NR# (NR; NR)
Meyer etal.[7] PA (increased;
Ref.: main-
tained high)
− 0.01 (− 0.05;
0.02)
0.00 (− 0.03;
0.04)
PA (decreased;
Ref.: main-
tained high)
0.09*** (0.05;
0.13)
0.03 (− 0.01;
0.07)
PA (maintained
low; Ref.:
maintained
high)
0.04 (0.00;
0.07)
0.02 (− 0.02;
0.05)
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
1779
Association of Physical Activity with Depression and Anxiety During COVID-19
stress, in turn, may differentially impact individuals’ level
of PA. Whereas habitually active individuals might even
increase their level of PA, those who had not yet integrated
exercise as a part of daily life, reduce their level of PA
Table 2 (continued)
Author Predictor Depressive symptoms Anxiety symptoms
Beta (95% CI) OR (95% CI) Beta (95% CI) OR (95% CI)
Stanton etal. [41] PA (negative
change; Ref.:
no change/posi-
tive change)
1.08*** (1.06; 1.11) 1.09*** (1.05;
1.13)
Zhang etal. [42] PA (per 100
MET increase)
− 0.04*
(− 0.08; 0)
− 0.03 (− 0.07;
0)
Zheng etal. [43] PA (decrease
vs. no change/
increase)
2.07** (NR; NR) 1.24 (NR; NR)
AOR adjusted odd’s ratio, EX exercise, MET metabolic equivalent of tasks, NR not reported, OR odd’s ratio, PA physical activity, PASE Physical
activity Scale for the Elderly, Ref. reference category
*p < 0.05; **p < 0.01; ***p < 0.001; °significant association, p value not reported; #no significant association, p value not reported
a Unstandardized regression coefficient
b Odd’s ratio calculated from case counts
c Post hoc analysis revealed that a decrease in exercise was significantly associated with less depression compared to stable exercise and increase.
No other comparison reached significance
Table 3 Risk of bias assessment
(NIHM tool for observational
studies)
Yyes, Nno, NRnot relevant
Items 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Cross-sectional studies
Bauer etal. [11] Y Y Y Y Y – Y Y Y Y
Callow etal. [26] Y Y Y Y Y – Y Y Y Y
Chen etal. [27] Y N NR N Y – N N Y N
Chen etal. [28] Y Y N N Y – Y N Y Y
Deng etal. [30] Y Y Y Y N – Y N Y N
Filgueiras and Stultz-Kolehmainen
[32]
Y N NR Y Y – Y N Y Y
Fu etal. [33] Y Y NR Y Y – N N Y Y
Fullana etal. [34] Y Y NR Y N – N N Y Y
Jacob etal. [35] Y Y NR Y Y – Y N Y Y
Khan etal. [36] Y N NR Y Y – N N Y Y
Lebel etal. [37] Y Y NR Y Y – N N Y Y
Moreira etal. [38] Y Y NR Y Y – N N Y Y
Plomecka etal. [40] Y Y Y Y Y – Y N Y Y
Schuch etal. [8] Y Y NR Y Y Y N Y Y
Stanton etal. [41] Y Y NR Y Y – N Y Y Y
Zheng etal. [43] Y Y Y Y N – N N Y Y
Longitudinal studies
Cheval etal. [29] Y N Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Yt – Y NR
Filgueiras and
Stultz-Kolehmainen [31]
Y N NR Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y N Y
Meyer etal. [7] Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y N N Y NA Y
Planchuelo-Gómez etal. [39] Y Y NR Y N Y Y Y NR Y Y N Y
Zhang etal. [42] Y N NR Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y NR
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
1780 S.Wolf et al.
[49]. Thus, habitually active individuals might have built
PA-related health competence and learned to utilize PA as
a strategy to cope with negative feelings, such as stress,
that may arise with sudden adaptions [50, 51]. Therefore,
to prevent an increase in psychiatric disorders during the
current or further pandemics, factors that facilitate the
integration of PA into daily life routines, such as moti-
vational and volitional skills, need to be identified and
encouraged. Motivation and volition are core components
of several theories of behavior change such as the Health
Action Process Approach (HAPA) [52]. HAPA is a social-
cognitive model specifying motivational and volitional
determinants of health behavior such as building inten-
tions for health behavior, planning the behavior, coping
with specific challenges, maintaining the behavior, and
perceiving self-efficacy for all processes. A recent meta-
analysis shows that action self-efficacy has large effects
on health behavior through intentions and maintenance
self-efficacy [53]. Especially, self-efficacy in building
intentions and action planning have larger effects on physi-
cal activity behavior compared with other health behav-
ior [53]. Indeed, Covid-19 specific interventions should
even more focus on self-efficacy experiences in building
intentions for PA and performing PA, since PA routines
are interrupted through anti-contagion policies. A widely
used way to promote these motivational and volitional
determinants is the application of behavior change tech-
niques (BCTs) [54, 55]. During the COVID-19 pandemic,
some BCTs appear to be particularly important for the
maintenance of regular PA. For instance, the knowledge
about the benefits of PA on symptoms that accompany
lock-down procedures, such as lowered mood or anxiety
might strengthen intentions for PA [46]. Furthermore,
individuals need the strong ability of coping planning to
anticipate barriers that could discourage them to engage
in PA (e.g., curfew, closed facilities) and find strategies to
overcome them (e.g., engage in home training).
A web-based tool, e.g., a smartphone application could
be a low-threshold and cost-effective option to train, super-
vise, apply, and adopt such BCTs, especially in terms of
COVID-19. First empirical evidence showed preliminary
efficacy of apps in promoting PA. Users of such apps are
more likely to meet recommendations on PA than non-users
[5659]. However, the evidence of long-term effects is cur-
rently inconclusive, since only few studies assess long-term
effects. A current meta-analysis claims for more research to
further elucidate the time course of intervention effects [59].
Furthermore, a meta-analysis showed that internet-delivered
interventions, which are able to use different BCTs, were
effective in increasing PA [60]. A major advantage of such
web-based tools is the possibility to overcome some of the
COVID-19 specific barriers. For instance, it is possible to
become physically active online with friends or a virtual
community, which might work against the lack of social
support. In addition, limited sporting opportunities may be
expanded through fitness technology and the provision of
structured programs, as they can be used both indoors (e.g.,
through fitness videos) and outdoors (e.g., through running
apps) and, therefore, be adapted to the specific situation.
5 Limitations
Most of the studies included in this review used cross-sec-
tional research designs. A causal nature of these associa-
tions, therefore, remains unclear. There are notably differ-
ences in effect sizes which point at a high heterogeneity of
the effects. Several studies further showed methodological
shortcomings, e.g., not reporting the participation rate,
including less than 50% of eligible participants, no vali-
dated tools to assess PA and failure to report standardized
coefficients. Heterogeneity in research designs and statistical
analyses hindered meta-analytic approaches, which would
have provided a more sophisticated overall effect estimate.
Finally, several included studies were published as preprints
and are currently in review processes for final publications.
It is, therefore, planned to update this review in the future.
6 Conclusions, Future Research Directions,
andImplications
This rapid review shows promising evidence that higher
volume and frequency of PA and the keeping of regular PA
habits during the Covid-19 pandemic are associated with
less symptoms of depression and anxiety. For instance, those
reporting a higher total time spent in moderate to vigor-
ous PA had 12–32% lower chances of presenting depressive
symptoms and 15–34% of presenting anxiety. Thus, the pro-
motion of PA habits and routines might be a cost-effective
and comprehensive worldwide applicable strategy to over-
come the severe gap between people in need and people
receiving mental health care, especially in low-income coun-
tries with even non-existing mental health supplies. Particu-
larly, web-based technologies, could be an easily accessible
way to increase motivation and volition for PA and main-
tain daily PA routines even under pandemic-specific bar-
riers. However, only very few apps or websites have been
tested in RCTs with high methodological standards [59, 61].
Thus, there is a clear need for more systematic research for
effectively and safely usable apps or web-based programs to
prevent psychiatric disorders through PA.
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
1781
Association of Physical Activity with Depression and Anxiety During COVID-19
Declarations
Funding Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt
DEAL.
Conflict of interest All authors declare that they have no conflict of
interest.
Availability of data and material Data sharing not applicable to this
article since all data extracted from studies are presented in the cur-
rent paper.
Author contributions SW and FS devised the project and the main con-
ceptual ideas. FS performed the literature research and selection. FS,
BS, and SW performed final data extraction. All authors significantly
contributed to drafting and carefully reviewing the final manuscript.
Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri-
bution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adapta-
tion, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long
as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source,
provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes
were made. The images or other third party material in this article are
included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated
otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in
the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not
permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will
need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a
copy of this licence, visit http:// creat iveco mmons. org/ licen ses/ by/4. 0/.
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... Specifically, they found that the COVID-19 pandemic led to reduced physical activity (less daily steps), increased sleep time, less time socializing, and higher symptoms of depression. A systematic review by Wolf et al. (2021), summarizing studies primarily among adults, similarly observed that moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity was related to 12-32% lower odds of depressive symptoms during the pandemic. The evidence indicates that physical activity has protective effects against the onset of depression with a number of suggested underlying antidepressant physiological and psychological mechanisms, such as changes in neuroplasticity, oxidative stress, and enhanced self-efficacy (Kandola et al., 2019;Xie et al., 2021). ...
... Studies examining the relationship between physical activity and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic predominately rely on selfreport which is subject to recall bias (Brenner and DeLamater, 2014;Wolf et al., 2021). Hence, in the current study we examine effects of objectively measured cardiorespiratory fitness (henceforth 'fitness') on depression during the pandemic. ...
... This research focused on adults attending a preventive medicine clinic at two points, which enables determining changes in depression symptoms as they relate to fitness before and during COVID-19. Prior research on this topic has often been cross-sectional with few employing longitudinal designs particularly among adults (Wolf et al., 2021). This study shows that increasing fitness is related to decreasing depression scores among men but not women during the pandemic. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined the relation between cardiorespiratory fitness (fitness) and depression symptoms prior to and during COVID-19 among adults seeking preventive medical care. Participants consisted of 967 patients attending the Cooper Clinic (Dallas, TX) pre-pandemic (March 2018-December 2019) and during the pandemic (March-December 2020). The outcome, depression symptoms, was based on the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression (CES-D). Maximal metabolic equivalents task (MET) levels for fitness were determined from the final treadmill speed and grade. Multiple linear regression models were computed by sex. Analysis revealed that mean fitness decreased from 11.4 METs (SD=2.1) prior to the pandemic to 10.9 METs (SD=2.3) during the pandemic (p-value<0.001). The mean CES-D score increased from 2.8 (SD= 3.1) before to pandemic to 3.1 (SD=3.2) during the pandemic (p-value=0.003). Results from multiple linear regression indicate that increased fitness was associated with a statistically significant decrease in depression scores in men (-0.17 per MET; 95%CI -0.33, -0.02) but not women. This modest decrease may have been tempered by high fitness levels and low depression scores at baseline in this well-educated sample.
... What is more, Marashi et al. [39] noted that during the pandemic, physically active individuals are mainly motivated by the fact that physical activity contributes to improving mental well-being and reducing anxiety. The findings of the study on benefits of physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic show that encouraging people to be physically active may lead to an improvement in their mental health state [40]. ...
... The more active our study participants were, the fewer health disorders manifested through somatic symptoms they experienced. Wolf et al. [40] proved that individuals who performed PA regularly displayed fewer mental symptoms. More active persons had 12% to 32% lower chances of presenting symptoms of depression and 15% to 34% lower chances of displaying anxiety. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: COVID-19 pandemic has struck all of us suddenly and unexpectedly; it deprived the society of a sense of control over their lives on different levels. In a short period of time, it led to a number of changes in everyday life of people all over the world. In particular, these changes affected medical staff, who, all of a sudden, were burdened with new work-related responsibilities and duties. This situation may have had a detrimental effect on their mental health. Due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, we attempted to assess its consequences in terms of mental health and physical fitness of university students from countries in which different approaches to these issues were adopted. Methods: A total of 779 medical students (374 students from John Paul II University of Applied Sciences (ABNS) in Biala Podlaska, Poland, and 405 students from Yanka Kupala State University of Grodno (YKSUG), Belarus) took part in the survey. Three standardised psychometric tools were used in the study: The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS), The General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) and Stress Coping Inventory (Mini-COPE). In addition, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was applied. Results: The vast majority of students both from Poland and Belarus demonstrated high levels of physical activity. However, students from ABNS manifested significantly higher levels of physical activity compared to their counterparts from YKSUG. Students from Biala Podlaska had greater satisfaction with life during the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas their peers from Grodno exhibited higher levels of mental distress. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant exacerbation of mental health issues among medical students. In order to alleviate negative effects of the pandemic, it seems necessary for universities to monitor the physical and mental health state of students and to implement prevention programmes.
... Moreover, social isolation during the pandemic had a negative effect on people's psychological wellbeing [25]. However, PA reduced the symptoms of depression and anxiety during the pandemic [26]. ...
... Other studies showed that social isolation during the pandemic had a negative effect on people's psychological well-being [25,35]. However, PA during the pandemic reduced the symptoms of depression and anxiety [26]. This finding is consistent with the data from our study that the psychological health improved more among people who did not exercise at all to the intensity of MVPA and those who did not exercise independently. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to explore how the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which contact communication was severely restricted, changed psychological health indicators, such as subjective assessment of health and depression, impulsivity, stress and emotional intelligence (EI) and how that depended on age, gender, physical activity (PA), sports specificity and body mass index (BMI).We surveyed 6369 before and 2392 people during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants were aged 18–74 years. Participants completed the Danish Physical Activity Questionnaire (DPAQ), the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10), the Schutte Self-Report Emotional Intelligence Test (SSREIT), Barratt Impulsiveness Scale Version 11 (BIS-11), subjective depression and health self-assessments. One-way and two-way analyses of variance (ANOVA) were performed to assess the effect of independent variables on the dependent variables of MVPA (METs). Statistical analysis showed that restrictions during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic did not alter moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), except for a significant decrease in MVPA in women aged 18–25 years, or body mass index in women and men of different ages. An increase in depression and impulsivity was observed, especially an increase in unplanned or spontaneous activity. The restrictions during the first wave increased stress in women of all ages and, rather unexpectedly, improved health self-assessment in men.The study showed that the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic affected people’s subjective assessment of health, depression, stress and impulsivity in two ways: it “weakened the weak ones” and “strengthened the strong ones”.
... Understanding these factors is critical to informing future infectious disease mitigation policies that promote, rather than hinder physical activity [8]. This is especially important given evidence of the positive impact of physical activity on mental health during the pandemic [9], immune response to vaccination [10], COVID-19 outcomes [11], and critically, that physical inactivity will continue to be an important risk factor in future pandemics [12][13][14]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic impacted individual physical activity levels. Less is known regarding how factors such as sociodemographic and built environment were associated with physical activity engagement during the pandemic. Understanding these factors is critical to informing future infectious disease mitigation policies that promote, rather than hinder physical activity. The purpose of this study was to assess predictors of physical activity levels during the beginning of the pandemic (April-June 2020), including Stay-at-Home length and orders, neighborhood safety, and sociodemographic characteristics. Methods: Data included 517 participants who responded to an anonymous online survey. Physical activity was assessed with a modified Godin Leisure-time exercise questionnaire. We used logistic regression models to estimate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the associations between independent variables (e.g., demographic variables, neighborhood safety, COVID Stay-at-Home order and length of time) and physical activity levels that did not meet (i.e., < 600 metabolic equivalents of task [MET]-minutes/week) or met guidelines (i.e., ≥ 600 MET-minutes/week). We used R-Studio open-source edition to clean and code data and SAS V9.4 for analyses. Results: Most participants were 18-45 years old (58%), female (79%), Hispanic (58%), and college/post-graduates (76%). Most (70%) reported meeting physical activity guidelines. In multivariate-adjusted analyses stratified by income, in the highest income bracket (≥ $70,000) pet ownership was associated with higher odds of meeting physical activity guidelines (aOR = 2.37, 95% CI: 1.23, 4.55), but this association did not persist for other income groups. We also found lower perceived neighborhood safety was associated with significantly lower odds of meeting physical activity guidelines (aOR = 0.15, 95% CI:0.04-0.61), but only among individuals in the lowest income bracket (< $40,000). Within this lowest income bracket, we also found that a lower level of education was associated with reduced odds of meeting physical activity guidelines. Discussion: We found that perceived neighborhood safety, education and pet ownership were associated with meeting physical activity guidelines during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but associations differed by income. These findings can inform targeted approaches to promoting physical activity during subsequent waves of COVID-19 or future pandemics.
... Prevention of risk factors is influenced by prenatal and/or early childhood programs that can support parents' skills by teaching them about children's behavioral patterns and social skills [42], [45]. Based on the study by Wolf et al., college student that does physical exercise (moderate to intense particularly) during the COVID-19 pandemic have lower chances of presenting depression or anxiety symptoms [46]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: COVID-19 pandemic not only causes physical problems but also becomes a stressor and give problems to mental health that are commonly found in adolescence. Mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, can increase the risk of many physical health problems and reduce performance in work and social environment as well. Therefore, this literature review is aimed to discuss further and to broaden insight about the importance of mental health disorders and efforts to prevent mental health disorders among teenagers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reviews: The COVID-19 pandemic has negative impacts in mental health. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health condition in the general population that reported an increase until three times compared before the pandemic. Several studies about COVID-19 and anxiety showed that the younger population (especially young adults) tended to have more anxiety. The most distressing issue for teenagers in the pandemic is not being able to see their friends, being fear of their friends or family getting sick or dying from COVID-19. In addition, when compared to the older population, the younger population also uses social media more often that can cause anxiety due to information overload and misinformation. Summary: COVID-19 pandemic gives rise to various mental health problems among teenagers. Understanding the symptoms and prevention of mental health disorders such as health promotion and protection from specific mental illness are becoming the primary prevention of mental health problems
... The results of this systematic evaluation are consistent with the conclusions of the previously published systematic evaluation, which evaluates the beneficial effects of physical activity on depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic [81][82][83][84]. At the same time, the research of Liuyang et al. may have significant heterogeneity [59]. ...
Article
Full-text available
(1) Background: Although physical activity has been widely recognized as an effective way to improve anxiety and depression, we lack a systematic summary of research on improving anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study aims to systematically analyze how physical activity impacts on this situation in college students during COVID-19. (2) Methods: Both Chinese and English databases (PubMed the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, Web of Science, Scopus, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang) were analyzed. All the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) about physical activity intervention for this were included. We received eight eligible RCT experiments before the retrieval time (4 October 2022) in the meta-analysis. (3) Results: Physical activity benefits for college students with significant anxiety were (SMD = −0.50; 95% CI = −0.83 to −0.17; I2 = 84%; p < 0.001; Z = 2.98;) and depression (SMD = −0.62; 95% CI = −0.99 to −0.25; I2 = 80.7%; p < 0.001; Z = 3.27). Subgroup analyses showed physical activity of different intensities significantly impacted on improving college students’ depression and anxiety, but physical activity of 6 < 9 Mets intensity had a greater effect on anxiety than on depression. Interventions of eight weeks or less performed better than those of over eight weeks while interventions less than four times per week had a significant effect on improving the situation. The overall effect of a single intervention of 30 min was more effective than one of over 60 min. (4) Conclusion: Physical activities can effectively improve the situation of anxiety and depression for college students during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a higher quality RCT experiment is needed to prove it.
... There are still inconsistencies in the relationship between them [23]. A new review suggests that it is controversial about levels of PA that can reduce depression and anxiety, and there are many inconsistencies in the relationship between PA and them [24]. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Internalizing problems is a worldwide burden that is not being abated with our current knowledge and treatment of the condition. Numerous clinical trials have supported that physical activity (PA) can reduce the internalizing problems in adolescents , but little is known about its mechanism of action. Therefore, the study objectives were to explore the potential relationship between physical activity (PA) and internalizing problems (depression and anxiety) from the perspective of body image and body mass index (BMI), and to provide an important reference for future self-esteem education and health promotion intervention. Methods: The participants in this study were 251 Chinese college students between 17 and 22 years old. Participants completed the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form (IPAQ-SF), the Body Image Questionnaire (BIQ), the Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS) and the Self-rating Anxiety Scale (SAS). A descriptive and correlational approach was used, using the PROCESS macro for Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Results: (1) Physical activity was significantly negatively correlated with both dimensions of internalizing problems (t = -0.237, p < 0.001; t = -0.193, p < 0.01). (2) Body image had a significant moderating effect on the relationship between physical activity and anxiety among college students, but there was no moderating effect between depression and physical activity. BMI has no moderating effect on the two interrelationships. Conclusion: There is only body image that moderates the relationship between anxiety and physical activity.
... Evidence from Canada and other developed countries has shown that lockdowns throughout the pandemic have had a negative impact on PA participation as well as emotional, psychological, and social well-being [6,7]. Data from over 40,000 able-bodied individuals found that low levels of moderate to vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) during Disabilities 2022, 2 682 the pandemic were associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety [8]. To make matters worse, low levels of PA have been shown to be associated with a higher risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes [9]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background: This study examined self-reported physical activity (PA) participation, well-being, and perceived needs of Canadians with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we assessed physical and mental health and the extent to which pre-identified needs were being met or unmet. Methods: Two iterations of the COVID-19 Disability Survey were conducted during two pandemic timeframes: June–December 2020 (iteration 1, n = 599) and December 2020–September 2021 (iteration 2, n = 528). PA participation was assessed with the International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Physical and mental health were assessed with the PROMIS Global-10 questionnaire. A needs assessment was conducted on 11 needs pre-identified in partnership with community organizations. Results: Approximately 50% of respondents to both iterations reported that they did not do any moderate-vigorous intensity PA. While physical health was not different between timeframes, mental health was worse during iteration 2 than iteration 1 (p = 0.028). During both timeframes, access to recreation and leisure facilities was the greatest unmet need. Conclusion: These data highlight the low levels of PA and the perceived changes in PA, mental health, and recreational needs of Canadians with disabilities during the pandemic. The findings of the Survey were used to support policy change to remove barriers to PA participation for people with disabilities in Ontario.
Chapter
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it the generalisation of working methods that existed beforehand, such as teleworking. Remote work has shown significant advantages, both for companies and for employees. However, teleworking has shown itself prone to certain psychosocial risks, even being viewed as an “accelerator” of the burnout process. Although research supports that teleworking promotes autonomy and flexibility, there is also evidence that teleworking performed at high-intensity may create conflict in the personal life. Intense workload, reduced and scant social support perceived in remote working were predictors, not solely of emotional weariness, but moreover of other dimensions of burnout: cynicism and lack of personal realisation. The experiences described by those who have worked remotely during the pandemic were: the ease with which schedules or rest days disappear, meeting too many demands through different channels (phone, WhatsApp, email) and with limited time. Also, taking into account that the employees lacked training and that on many occasions they were overwhelmed by techno-stress. Thorough studies are needed on the health consequences of teleworking, which clearly define their aims and take into account the complexity of mediating and modulating variables. Future research should seek to identify what behaviours and resources of teleworking can be beneficial in meeting demands and what aspects contribute to exhaustion.
Article
Full-text available
Background During the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, adolescents' mental health was largely undermined. A general increment in screen time was reported. However, the long-term effects of the latter on adolescents' mental health are still little explored. Methods In the present natural experiment, we investigated these effects using longitudinal data collected before and after the first lockdown in Switzerland. Data come from 674 Swiss adolescents (56.7% females, M age = 14.45, SD age = 0.50) during Spring 2019 (T1) and Autumn 2020 (T2) as part of the longitudinal MEDIATICINO study. Self-reported mental health measures included somatic symptoms, inattention, anxiety, irritability, anger, sleep problems, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, loneliness, and depression. Measures for screen-media activities included time spent on the Internet, smartphones, social media, video gaming, instant messaging, and television viewing. They were all assessed at T1 and T2. Results Paired-sample t -tests with Bonferroni's correction showed that most mental health problems increased over time with an overall medium effect size (Hedge's g = 0.337). In particular, medium effect sizes were found for anxiety, depression, and inattention; small-to-medium effect sizes were reported for loneliness, sleep problems, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms; and a small effect size was found for somatic symptoms. Screen-media activities increased, with the exception of television viewing and video gaming. The results of the hierarchical regression analyses showed that, controlling for covariates, increased time spent on social media – calculated as the difference between T2 and T1 – was the only screen-media activity significantly associated with worse mental health at T2 (β = 0.112, p = 0.016). More time spent in structured media activities like television viewing diminished levels of inattention (β = −0.091, p = 0.021) and anxiety (β = −0.093, p = 0.014). Among covariates, being female, experiencing two or more life events, having mental health problems at T1, and using screens for homeschooling negatively influenced mental health at T2. Conclusion These results align with literature indicating a small but negative effect of social media time on mental health. Underlying mechanisms are manifold, including increased exposure to COVID-19 news, heightened fear of missing out, social comparison, and time-displaced for activities such as physical activity and green time. However, in line with the structured days hypothesis , getting involved in media-structured activities like television viewing might protect against mental health symptoms.
Article
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Background The COVID-19 pandemic imposed major changes on daily-life routine worldwide. To the best of our knowledge, no study quantified the changes on moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behaviors (SB) and its correlates in Brazilians. This study aimed to (i) evaluate the changes (pre versus during pandemic) in time spent in MVPA and SB in self-isolating Brazilians during the COVID-19 pandemic, and (ii) to explore correlates.MethodsA cross-sectional, retrospective, self-report online web survey, evaluating the time spent in MVPA and SB pre and during the COVID-19 pandemic in self-isolating people in Brazil. Sociodemographic, behavioral, and clinical measures, and time in self-isolation were also obtained. Changes in MVPA and SB and their correlates were explored using generalized estimating equations (GEE). Models were adjusted for covariates.ResultsA total of 877 participants (72.7% women, 53.7% young adults [18–34 years]) were included. Overall, participants reported a 59.7% reduction (95% CI 35.6–82.2) in time spent on MVPA during the pandemic, equivalent to 64.28 (95% CI 36.06–83.33) minutes per day. Time spent in SB increased 42.0% (95% CI 31.7–52.5), corresponding to an increase of 152.3 (95% CI 111.9–192.7) minutes per day. Greater reductions in MVPA and increases in SB were seen in younger adults, those not married, those employed, and those with a self-reported previous diagnosis of a mental disorder.Conclusions People in self-isolation significantly reduced MVPA levels and increased SB. Public health strategies are needed to mitigate the impact of self-isolation on MVPA and SB.
Article
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The outbreak of COVID-19 might produce dramatic psychological effects on the individuals’ life. In this study, we aimed to explore the elements that may reduce the negative effects on mental health of the quarantine period imposed by most governments during this worldwide crisis. We conducted an online survey to evaluate demographic, lifestyle and mental health variables in the Portuguese population. We observed that factors related with living conditions, maintaining the work either online or in the workplace, frequency of exercise and absence of a previous psychological or physic disorders are protective features of psychological well-being (anxiety, depression, stress and obsessive-compulsive symptoms). Finally, the individuals previously receiving psychotherapeutic support exhibited better psychological indicators if they did not interrupt the process as a consequence of the outbreak. Our results indicate that the practice of physical exercise, reduced consumption of COVID-19 information and the implementation of remote mental healthcare measures might prevent larger impacts on mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Article
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Background The COVID-19 outbreak has affected people’s health worldwide. For college students, web-based physical education is a challenge, as these course are normally offered outdoors. Objective The aim of this study was to use data from a web-based survey to evaluate the relationship between the mental health status of college students and their sports-related lifestyles. Problems related to web-based physical education were also examined. MethodsA web-based survey was conducted by snowball sampling from May 8 to 11, 2020. Demographic data, mental health status, and sports-related lifestyles of college students in Wuhan as well as issues related to web-based physical education were collected. Mental health status was assessed by the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21). ResultsThe study included 1607 respondents from 267 cities. The average scores of the DASS-21 subscales (2.46 for depression, 1.48 for anxiety, and 2.59 for stress) were significantly lower in our study than in a previous study (P1 hour, and >2000 pedometer steps (all P
Article
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Background and Aims The most restrictive non‐pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) for controlling the spread of COVID‐19 are mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures. Given the consequences of these policies, it is important to assess their effects. We evaluate the effects on epidemic case growth of more restrictive NPIs (mrNPIs), above and beyond those of less restrictive NPIs (lrNPIs). Methods We first estimate COVID‐19 case growth in relation to any NPI implementation in subnational regions of 10 countries: England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the US. Using first‐difference models with fixed effects, we isolate the effects of mrNPIs by subtracting the combined effects of lrNPIs and epidemic dynamics from all NPIs. We use case growth in Sweden and South Korea, two countries that did not implement mandatory stay‐at‐home and business closures, as comparison countries for the other 8 countries (16 total comparisons). Results Implementing any NPIs was associated with significant reductions in case growth in 9 out of 10 study countries, including South Korea and Sweden that implemented only lrNPIs (Spain had a non‐significant effect). After subtracting the epidemic and lrNPI effects, we find no clear, significant beneficial effect of mrNPIs on case growth in any country. In France, e.g., the effect of mrNPIs was +7% (95CI ‐5%‐19%) when compared with Sweden, and +13% (‐12%‐38%) when compared with South Korea (positive means pro‐contagion). The 95% confidence intervals excluded 30% declines in all 16 comparisons and 15% declines in 11/16 comparisons. Conclusions While small benefits cannot be excluded, we do not find significant benefits on case growth of more restrictive NPIs. Similar reductions in case growth may be achievable with less restrictive interventions.
Article
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Objective. To assess whether changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour during the COVID-19 lockdown are associated with changes in mental and physical health. Design. Observational longitudinal study. Method. Participants living in France or Switzerland responded to online questionnaires measuring physical activity, physical and mental health, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Paired sample t-tests were used to assess differences in physical activity and sedentary behaviour before and during lockdown. Multiple linear regressions were used to investigate the associations between changes in physical activity and changes in mental and physical health during lockdown. Results. A total of 267 (wave1) and 110 participants (wave2; two weeks later) were recruited. Lockdown resulted in higher time spent in walking and moderate physical activity (~10min/day) and in sedentary behaviour (~75min/day), compared to pre COVID-19. Increased physical activity during leisure time from week 2 to week 4 of lockdown was associated with improved physical health (β=.24, p=.002). Additionally, an increase in sedentary behaviour during leisure time was associated with poorer physical health (β=-.35, p=.002), mental health (β=-.25, p=.003), and subjective vitality (β=-.30, p=.004). Conclusions. Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour during lockdown are associated with changes in physical and mental health. Ensuring sufficient levels of physical activity and reducing sedentary time can play a vital role in helping people to cope with a major stressful event, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Article
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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.
Article
Background Strict confinement and social distancing measures have been imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in many countries. The aim was to assess the temporal evolution of the psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown from two surveys, separated by one month, performed in Spain. Methods Symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, and the psychological impact of the situation were longitudinally analyzed using the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) and the Impact of Event Scale (IES) respectively. Results There was a total of 4,724 responses from both surveys. Symptomatic scores of anxiety, depression and stress were exhibited by 37.22%, 46.42% and 49.66% of the second survey respondents, showing a significant increase compared to the first survey (32.45%, 44.11% and 37.01%, respectively). There was no significant longitudinal change of the IES scores, with 48.30% of the second survey participants showing moderate to severe impact of the confinement. Constant news consumption about COVID-19 was found to be positively associated with symptomatic scores in the different scales, and daily physical activity to be negatively associated with DASS-21 scores. Conclusions Results indicated a temporal increase of anxiety, depression and stress scores during the COVID-19 lockdown. Factors such as age, consumption of information about COVID-19 and physical activity seem to have an important impact on the evolution of psychological symptoms.
Article
Background: COVID-19 is imposing threat both on physical and mental health since its outbreak. Bangladesh adopted lockdown strategy with potential consequences on day to day life, mental and physical health and this study aims to explore the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing among Bangladeshi students. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted between 9th and 23rd April 2020 among 505 college and university students. Data was collected by using online questionnaire including DASS 21 and IES. Descriptive analysis and bivariate linear regression were performed to examine the association of variables. Results: 28.5 % of the respondents had stress, 33.3% anxiety, 46.92% depression from mild to extremely severe, according to DASS 21 and 69.31% had event-specific distress from mild to severe in terms of severity according to IES. Perceiving physical symptoms as COVID-19 was significantly associated with DASS stress subscale (B=3.71, 95% CI: 1.01 to 6.40), DASS anxiety subscale (B= 3.95, 95% CI: 1.95 to 5.96), DASS depression subscale (B=3.82, 95% CI: 0.97 to 6.67) and IES scale (B=7.52, 95% CI: 3.58 to 11.45). Additionally, fear of infection, financial uncertainty, inadequate food supply, absence of physical exercise and limited or no recreational activity had significant association with stress, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic symptoms. Conclusion: This COVID-19 outbreak imposes psychological consequences on people to a great extent which requires attention from the concerned authorities to cope with this situation mentally. The perception about the outbreak can also play a big role in psychological impact.
Article
Background Anxiety and depression symptoms in pregnancy typically affect between 10-25% of pregnant individuals. Elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety are associated with increased risk of preterm birth, postpartum depression, and behavioural difficulties in children. The current COVID-19 pandemic is a unique stressor with potentially wide-ranging consequences for pregnancy and beyond. Methods We assessed symptoms of anxiety and depression among pregnant individuals during the current COVID-19 pandemic and determined factors that were associated with psychological distress. 1987 pregnant participants in Canada were surveyed in April 2020. The assessment included questions about COVID-19-related stress and standardized measures of depression, anxiety, pregnancy-related anxiety, and social support. Results We found substantially elevated anxiety and depression symptoms compared to similar pre-pandemic pregnancy cohorts, with 37% reporting clinically relevant symptoms of depression and 57% reporting clinically relevant symptoms of anxiety. Higher symptoms of depression and anxiety were associated with more concern about threats of COVID-19 to the life of the mother and baby, as well as concerns about not getting the necessary prenatal care, relationship strain, and social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Higher levels of perceived social support and support effectiveness, as well as more physical activity, were associated with lower psychological symptoms. Conclusion This study shows concerningly elevated symptoms of anxiety and depression among pregnant individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, that may have long-term impacts on their children. Potential protective factors include increased social support and exercise, as these were associated with lower symptoms and thus may help mitigate long-term negative outcomes.
Article
This is a cross-sectional study evaluating the associations of self-reported moderate to vigorous physical activity, and sedentary behavior with depressive, anxiety, and co-occurring depressive and anxiety symptoms (D&A) in self-isolating Brazilians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Depressive and anxiety symptoms were collected using the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories (BDI and BAI). Among the 937 participants (females=72.3%), those performing ≥30 min/day of moderate to vigorous or ≥15 min/day of vigorous physical activity had lower odds of prevalent depressive, anxiety, and co-occurring D&A symptoms. Those spending ≥10 h/day sedentary were more likely to have depressive symptoms.