How does sitting at home during the pandemic affect our mental health? How quickly do the negative effects of the “lockdown” appear? Surveys conducted in the United States, first in March of last year, and then from April to June 2020, showed that it is not the best.
The authors of this study are scientists from Iowa State University (USA) and three universities in Ireland (including Dublin University). The group of respondents was 3 thousand. People from anywhere in the United States. Participants reported themselves how much time they spent working, sitting at a desk or computer, or watching TV, and how much time they spent exercising. They also indicated what they were doing in their spare time before the outbreak of the epidemic. Additionally, their mental state and changes in well-being were monitored.
We know that when there are changes in physical activity and the time spent sitting increases, it has an impact on people’s mental health. Now we can look at this process more broadly, says Jacob Mayer of Iowa State University, lead author of the study.
One third of the fall into physical activity
The results of the March survey showed a significant decrease in physical activity compared to the pre-pandemic period. Those who exercised an average of 2.5 to 5 hours per week before the pandemic reduced their activity by a third.
The researchers again asked study participants to complete a weekly questionnaire from April to June. Some improvement in mood was noted in the latest study. Some people are used to living in a pandemic and no longer feel depressed. But not everyone. Those who were still sitting complained of low mood or Despair. This is not just a simple association between inactivity and depression.
“It’s possible that people who were more depressed spent more time sitting, or people who sat more became more depressed, or there was another factor,” Dr. Meyer says.
Research has also shown that young people and women recover from mental health “after lockdown” more difficult and longer.
The hardest part now is changing your habits. The expert recommends that we start with small steps, for example by taking longer and longer breaks while working at the computer. Let’s also not forget to walk.
Other studies have shown that if you sit for more than 8 hours, to offset the negative effect of a lack of exercise, you need to exercise for a longer time. Ideally, such physical activity will last 1 hour, and the absolute minimum is 30 minutes – experts wrote in the journal “Sports Sciences for Heakth”.
Strategies are needed that target the people most affected by the epidemic (ie youth and women) and focus on reducing the time they spend sitting. Researchers at Frontiers of Psychiatry concluded that this could be critical to preventing long-term mental health effects during the pandemic.
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