Longitudinal Study Assesses Correlation Between Physical Activity, Time Spent Outdoors and the Likelihood of Depression and Anxiety During Pandemic and Quarantine

Longitudinal Study Assesses Correlation Between Physical Activity, Time Spent Outdoors and the Likelihood of Depression and Anxiety During Pandemic and Quarantine

A longitudinal study led by Deborah Rohm Young found that “People should be encouraged to continue physical activity participation during this and other public health emergencies to benefit their mental as well as physical health.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, low physical activity was associated with higher anxiety and depression scores over 3 months. Results were consistent across all demographic subgroups, including white, Hispanic, Black, and Asian respondents. Less time spent outdoors was associated with higher depression and anxiety scores compared with no change in time outdoors.

Findings

Higher physical activity was associated with lower anxiety and depression scores over approximately 3 months during the initial lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic. People should be encouraged to continue physical activity participation during this and other public health emergencies to benefit their mental and physical health. Outdoor opportunities for physical activity, including parks and other nature venues, should remain open for use during future pandemics.

Younger Age Cohort

We found interactions between spending less time in nature and poorer mental health, in whi...

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