Effects of Mental Stress on Physical Activity During Study of COVID – Canada – 2022 – Mental Health Weekly


abstract

As many people continue to grapple with the emotional challenges that COVID-19 brings as it enters its third year, staying active becomes increasingly important, say researchers of a study that examines the link between mental health and physical activity while investigated this pandemic. Staying home orders doesn’t make it any easier, they noted.

Bottom line …

Researchers suggest that policy implications should include the promotion of physical activity as a protective factor against mental health deterioration.

As many people continue to grapple with the emotional challenges that COVID-19 brings as it enters its third year, staying active becomes increasingly important, say researchers of a study that examines the link between mental health and physical activity while investigated this pandemic. Staying home orders doesn’t make it any easier, they noted.

The study “Examining the Relationship Between Physical Activity and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Five US States” was first published online on August 26, 2021 Preventive Medical Reports and in press in December. The Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association and the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Foundation identified the article published in PRA recovery update, as one of the most viewed in 2021.

Researchers began the study at the beginning of the pandemic when many facilities were closed, said Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, Ph.D., MHA, co-author on the study and adjunct professor and expansion specialist in the Department of Agricultural and North Carolina State University of Humanities .

Haynes-Maslow noted that other studies looked at the relationship between physical activity and mental health both before and during the pandemic. The studies found that a lack of physical activity was linked to an increased risk of depression and anxiety, she said. Physical activity can also act as a protective factor for some mental health issues, such as hopelessness and worry, said Haynes-Maslow.

For the current study, she and her colleagues focused on two questions: How does the pandemic affect physical activity and mental health? And how are physical activity and mental health related, if at all?

What sets the current research apart from other studies is its diversity, she said. “The study was carried out in five very different countries, [accounting] for race, income, and rural and urban populations, ”said Haynes-Maslow Weekly for mental health. “Our study was also conducted in collaboration with four other universities.” The national sample of individuals added to the strength of the studies, she added.

Learning method

The mixed methods study included online survey responses from 4,026 people collected in five states (Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, Oregon, and West Virginia) between April and September 2020.

Researchers checked according to race / ethnicity, household income / size, gender, urbanity, education, employment, use of government support and the presence of chronic health conditions.

Combine both

To limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health, schools, businesses, organizations and even parks have been closed, the study found. Shortly after the home stay arrangements were implemented, studies reported declining mental health outcomes in adults in the United States.

“In general, the public health system has recognized that mental health and physical health are linked,” said Haynes-Maslow. “However, it is known that there are not enough mental health providers, waiting lists are long, and many health plans do not cover the providers that patients want to see.”

The researchers pointed to a cross-sectional survey in June 2020 that found that 41% of adults reported at least one negative mental or behavioral illness. These results were among young adults (74.9%), Hispanic / Latin American populations (52.1%), those with no high school diploma (66.2%), and key workers (54%). COVID-19 has had a detrimental effect on mental health, with particularly damaging consequences for historically oppressed groups, the researchers said.

“Policymakers need to provide opportunities for people to participate in a variety of low-cost physical activities.”

Lindsey Haynes-Maslow, Ph.D., MHA

While physical activity has been linked to antidepressant effects and has been linked to improved mental health, many people don’t get enough exercise, the researchers said.

results

Before COVID-19, the average value on the respondents’ psychological distress scale was 9.69. During COVID-19, that number rose to 13.51, suggesting that respondents’ psychological distress worsened during COVID-19, the study found.

Many participants said that COVID-19 home stay orders had a direct impact on their ability to be physically active. For some participants, being ordered to stay at home increased physical activity levels. As one participant stated: “[I have] more time at home; able to work outside; quarantine [is] forces me to cancel plans / stay home so no excuse not to exercise. ”For other residents, living in the country meant they felt safer to be active outside. One participant said, “I’m walking around the neighborhood. I live in a rural area and have the feeling that I can walk safely as there are only a few people around. “

However, for many others, COVID-19 closings, such as gyms and parks, have been an obstacle to physical activity. Many respondents who also looked after children and / or older adults stated that the arrangements for staying at home made physical activity even more difficult.

This study shows that an increase in mental stress during COVID-19 led to a decrease in physical activity (phase 1), which led to a further decrease in mental stress (phase 2), which led to an even further decrease in physical activity (Phase.). 3). This two-way, cyclical relationship is an important finding as physical activity is well-documented as a key strategy in supporting positive mental health, the researchers say.

The Asian population had greater difficulty maintaining levels of physical activity prior to COVID-19 during the pandemic, as did households whose incomes were $ 45,001 to $ 50,000 per year and / or those who lived in urban areas, the study found .

Taking race, income, and geography into account, the researchers were surprised by the differences they saw, Haynes-Maslow said. Violence and discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans rose rapidly during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the study. “Asian Americans were 2.35 times more likely to have difficulty maintaining physical activity levels, and while our study did not investigate the reason for this, we believe this may be related to anti-Asian feelings during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Haynes-Maslow said.

They were also surprised that urban populations found it 1.2 times more difficult to continue physical activity than rural populations. Greater enforcement of the lockdown in urban cities could have been a factor, noted Haynes-Maslow. The researchers concluded that rural dwellers found their outdoor areas less risky of contracting COVID-19 and were comfortable outdoors. Alternatively, it is possible that the physical activity of the rural residents did not decrease because their regular physical activity was already predominantly outdoors.

Policy implications should include promoting physical activity as a protective factor against deterioration in mental health, the researchers suggested. “Our study showed that we should invest in structural changes that improve the opportunities and resources for safe places to be active in the community,” said Haynes-Maslow. “These changes can include building sidewalks, paths, street lights, and green spaces (parks) so people can be physically active and feel safe at the same time.”

She added, “Policymakers need to provide opportunities for people to participate in a variety of low-cost physical activities.”


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