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Changes in physical activity and sedentary behaviour due to the COVID-19 outbreak and associations with mental health in 3,052 US adults


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This project evaluated the impact of COVID-19-related public health restrictions on physical activity, sedentary time, mental health, and their interrelations. Cross-sectional data were collected from 3,052 US adults on April 3rd-7th, 2020. Physical activity, sitting, and screen time, both pre- and post-COVID-19-related restrictions, along with currently-followed public health restrictions and current mental health were self-reported. Participants were grouped by meeting physical activity guidelines, ≥8 hrs/day of sitting, or ≥8 hrs/day of screen time. Physical activity was reduced by 32.3% among previously active participants but largely unchanged among previously inactive participants. No longer being active and increased screen time following COVID-19-related restrictions were associated with worse current mental health. Self-isolation/quarantine was associated with higher depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to social distancing. Concerted efforts to maintain and enhance physical activity participation and limit screen time during pandemic-related public health restrictions are needed to mitigate short- and likely long-term mental health consequences.


Thumbnail image of Meyer McDowell et al 2020.pdf


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Comment number 1, Jacob Meyer: Sep 28, 2020, 13:36

The full version is now published online here: Citation: Meyer J, McDowell C, Lansing J, Brower C, Smith L, Tully M, Herring M. Changes in Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior in Response to COVID-19 and Their Associations with Mental Health in 3052 US Adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(18):6469.