Physical activity and mental well-being under COVID-19 lockdown: a cross-sectional multination study

Karageorghis, Costas I. and Bird, Jonathan M. and Hutchinson, Jasmin C. and Hamer, Mark and Delevoye-Turrell, Yvonne N. and Guerin, Segolene M. R. and Mullin, Elizabeth M. and Mellano, Kathleen T. and Parsons-Smith, Renee L. and Terry, Victoria R. and Terry, Peter C. (2021) Physical activity and mental well-being under COVID-19 lockdown: a cross-sectional multination study. BMC Public Health, 21 (1):988. pp. 1-13.

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Background: COVID-19 lockdowns have reduced opportunities for physical activity (PA) and encouraged more sedentary lifestyles. A concomitant of sedentariness is compromised mental health. We investigated the effects of COVID-19 lockdown on PA, sedentary behavior, and mental health across four Western nations (USA, UK, France, and Australia).
Methods: An online survey was administered in the second quarter of 2020 (N = 2541). We measured planned and unplanned dimensions of PA using the Brunel Lifestyle Physical Activity Questionnaire and mental health using the
12-item General Health Questionnaire. Steps per day were recorded only from participants who used an electronic
device for this purpose, and sedentary behavior was reported in hours per day (sitting and screen time).
Results: In the USA and Australia samples, there was a significant decline in planned PA from pre- to during lockdown. Among young adults, Australians exhibited the lowest planned PA scores, while in middle-aged groups, the UK recorded the highest. Young adults exhibited the largest reduction in unplanned PA. Across nations, there was a reduction of ~ 2000 steps per day. Large increases in sedentary behavior emerged during lockdown, which were most acute in young adults. Lockdown was associated with a decline in mental health that was more pronounced in women.
Conclusions: The findings illustrate the deleterious effects of lockdown on PA, sedentary behavior, and mental health
across four Western nations. Australian young and lower middle-aged adults appeared to fare particularly badly in terms of planned PA. The reduction in steps per day is equivalent to the non-expenditure of ~ 100 kcal. Declines in mental health show how harmful lockdowns can be for women in particular.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © The Author(s). 2021 Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Research and Innovation Division (12 Jul 2012 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Health Research (1 Apr 2020 -)
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2021 01:37
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2021 02:23
Uncontrolled Keywords: Coronavirus; Exercise; International; Mental well-being; Pandemic
Fields of Research (2008): 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170114 Sport and Exercise Psychology
Fields of Research (2020): 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520107 Sport and exercise psychology
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