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  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Maryam Marashi; Emma Nicholson; Michelle Ogrodnik; Barbara Fenesi; Jennifer J. Heisz;
    Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
    Country: Canada
    Project: NSERC

    AbstractThe COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health, physical activity, and sedentary behavior of citizens worldwide. Using an online survey with 1669 respondents, we sought to understand why and how by querying about perceived barriers and motivators to physical activity that changed because of the pandemic, and how those changes impacted mental health. Consistent with prior reports, our respondents were less physically active (aerobic activity, −11%, p <0.05; strength-based activity, −30%, p<0.01) and more sedentary (+11%, p<0.01) during the pandemic as compared to 6-months before. The pandemic also increased psychological stress (+22%, p <0.01) and brought on moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Respondents’ whose mental health deteriorated the most were also the ones who were least active (depression r = −.21, p<0.01; anxiety r = −.12, p<0.01). The majority of respondents were unmotivated to exercise because they were too anxious (+8%, p <0.01), lacked social support (+6%, p =<0.01), or had limited access to equipment (+23%, p <0.01) or space (+41%, p <0.01). The respondents who were able to stay active reported feeling less motivated by physical health outcomes such as weight loss (−7%, p<0.01) or strength (−14%, p<0.01) and instead more motivated by mental health outcomes such as anxiety relief (+14%, p <0.01). Coupled with previous work demonstrating a direct relationship between mental health and physical activity, these results highlight the potential protective effect of physical activity on mental health and point to the need for psychological support to overcome perceived barriers so that people can continue to be physically active during stressful times like the pandemic.

Include:
1 Research products, page 1 of 1
  • Open Access English
    Authors: 
    Maryam Marashi; Emma Nicholson; Michelle Ogrodnik; Barbara Fenesi; Jennifer J. Heisz;
    Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
    Country: Canada
    Project: NSERC

    AbstractThe COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health, physical activity, and sedentary behavior of citizens worldwide. Using an online survey with 1669 respondents, we sought to understand why and how by querying about perceived barriers and motivators to physical activity that changed because of the pandemic, and how those changes impacted mental health. Consistent with prior reports, our respondents were less physically active (aerobic activity, −11%, p <0.05; strength-based activity, −30%, p<0.01) and more sedentary (+11%, p<0.01) during the pandemic as compared to 6-months before. The pandemic also increased psychological stress (+22%, p <0.01) and brought on moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Respondents’ whose mental health deteriorated the most were also the ones who were least active (depression r = −.21, p<0.01; anxiety r = −.12, p<0.01). The majority of respondents were unmotivated to exercise because they were too anxious (+8%, p <0.01), lacked social support (+6%, p =<0.01), or had limited access to equipment (+23%, p <0.01) or space (+41%, p <0.01). The respondents who were able to stay active reported feeling less motivated by physical health outcomes such as weight loss (−7%, p<0.01) or strength (−14%, p<0.01) and instead more motivated by mental health outcomes such as anxiety relief (+14%, p <0.01). Coupled with previous work demonstrating a direct relationship between mental health and physical activity, these results highlight the potential protective effect of physical activity on mental health and point to the need for psychological support to overcome perceived barriers so that people can continue to be physically active during stressful times like the pandemic.

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