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Exercise, the pandemic, and your mental health

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two people are wielding masks in the pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic was a time of unprecedented change. While staying home orders and social distancing resulted in many people having a lot more time than normal, the way people spent this new free time wasn’t always in their best interests.

As the pandemic progressed, TikTok videos exploded, binge-watching became the norm after dinner, and many tried to bake homemade bread. While some people may have used this extra time, many struggled with the cabin fever and just moved on. Because of this psychological fear, training has often been marginalized during the pandemic.

Exercise decreases during the pandemic

Several studies have been published on the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic and our mental health professionals in Dublin have seen these effects firsthand. In the first few months of the pandemic, 31% of adults in the United States said they were struggling with anxiety or depression.1 Even when life returns to normal, high levels of anxiety and depression remain and not everyone gets the mental health care they need.2

While mental health may have been harmed, physical health did too. Although people had more time to exercise, many remained sedentary and may have reached “quarantine 15” instead. A small study tracked participants’ self-reported physical activity 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 the time spent sitting increased by 33 minutes. Those who previously described themselves as “recreational athletes”, “very active” or even “moderately active” now identified themselves as “completely sedentary” during the COVID-19 pandemic.3

How sedentary lifestyle is linked to mental health during the pandemic

Exercise is not only good for physical health, it also has many mental health benefits. Regular exercise has been linked to a reduction in anxiety, a reduction in depression, and an overall improvement in mood.4th Those in the study who stayed active during the pandemic said they were most motivated by the mental health benefits of exercise, such as anxiety relief.3

Unfortunately, this relationship goes both ways, and sedentary lifestyle can also affect mental health. In the same study, respondents who were least active during the pandemic saw the worst deterioration in their mental health.3 This decline in mental health and physical activity during the pandemic may have started a downward spiral of general deterioration in their wellbeing for some people.

Now is the time to break this cycle. Our Columbus, Ohio mental health treatment center is here to help you get your wellness journey back on track. Contact us today to speak to our care team and get started.

Thank You For Reading!


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