The coronavirus pandemic was a time of unprecedented change. While stay-at-home orders and social distancing resulted in many people having much more time on their hands than normal, how people spent this new free time was not always in their best interest.
Over the course of the pandemic, TikTok videos exploded, binge-watching became the after-dinner norm, and many tried their hand at baking homemade bread. Although some people may have taken advantage of this extra time, many people struggled with cabin fever and to just keep going. As a result of this mental angst, exercising during the pandemic was often pushed to the side.
Exercise Declines During the Pandemic
Several studies have already come out about the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic and our mental health professionals in Dublin have already seen this impact firsthand. During the early months of the pandemic, 31% of adults in the United States reported struggling with anxiety or depression.1 Now even as life is starting to get back to normal, high levels of anxiety and depression remain and not everyone is getting the mental health care they need.2
While mental health may have taken a hit, so did physical health. Even though people had more time to exercise, many remained sedentary and instead may have gained the “quarantine 15.” One small study followed the self-reported physical activity of participants six months before the pandemic compared to during the pandemic. On average, the survey found that aerobic activity decreased by 22 minutes, strength-based activity decreased by 32 minutes, and time spent being sedentary increased by 33 minutes. Those who had originally considered themselves “recreational athletes,” “very active,” or even “moderately active” before, now identified themselves as “completely sedentary” during the COVID-19 pandemic.3
How Lack of Exercise in The Pandemic Connects to Mental Health
Exercise isn’t just good for your physical health but also has many mental health benefits. Regular exercise is linked to reduced anxiety, decreased depression, and an overall improvement in mood.4 The respondents in the study who remained active during the pandemic cited being most motivated by the mental health benefits of exercise such as anxiety relief.3
Unfortunately, this relationship goes both ways, and lack of exercise can also hurt mental health. In the same study, respondents who were the least active during the pandemic saw the greatest deterioration in their mental health.3 This decline in mental health and exercise during the pandemic may have led some people to a downward spiral of overall deterioration for their well-being.
The time is now to break this cycle. Our mental health treatment center in Columbus, Ohio is here to help you get back on track in your wellness journey. Contact us today to speak with our care team and to get started.