Life in a time of COVID: Retrospective examination of the association between physical activity and mental well-being in Western Australians during and after lockdown
BMC Public Health
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Western Australia Government grant through the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation
Background: The aim of this study was to examine physical activity and sedentary behaviours during Western Australia’s COVID-19 lockdown and their association with mental well-being. Methods: Participants completed activity related questions approximately two months after a three-month lockdown (which formed part of a larger cross-sectional study from August to October 2020) as part of a 25-minute questionnaire adapted from the Western Australia Health and Well-being Surveillance system. Open-ended questions explored key issues relating to physical activity behaviours. Results: During the lockdown period, 463 participants (female, n = 347; 75.3%) reported lower number of active days (W = 4.47 p < .001), higher non-work-related screen hours per week (W = 11.8 p < .001), and higher levels of sitting time (χ2=28.4 p <. 001). Post lockdown body mass index was higher (U = 3.0 p =.003), with obese individuals reporting the highest non-work-related screen hours per week (Wald χ2= 8.9 p =.012). Inverse associations were found for mental well-being where higher lockdown scores of Kessler-10 (p =.011), Dass-21 anxiety (p =.027) and Dass-21 depression (p =.011) were associated with lower physical activity levels. A key qualitative message from participants was wanting to know how to stay healthy during lockdown. Conclusions: Lockdown was associated with lower physical activity, higher non-work-related screen time and more sitting time compared to post lockdown which also reported higher body mass index. Lower levels of mental well-being were associated with lower physical activity levels during lockdown. Given the known positive affect of physical activity on mental well-being and obesity, and the detrimental associations shown in this study, a key public health message should be considered in an attempt to maintain healthy activity behaviours in future lockdowns and similar emergency situations to promote and maintain positive well-being. Furthermore, consideration should be given to the isolation of a community due to infectious disease outbreaks and to recognise the important role physical activity plays in maintaining weight and supporting good mental health.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Piggott, B., Chivers, P., Sarasjärvi, K. K., Bhoyroo, R., Lambert, M., Millar, L., ... & Codde, J. (2023). Life in a time of COVID: Retrospective examination of the association between physical activity and mental well-being in Western Australians during and after lockdown. BMC Public Health, 23, Article 701. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-023-15440-1