COVID-19: Physical Activity May Improve Well-Being During Quarantine

exercise, senior exercise covid19
This study is the first quantitative verification of a link between engagement in physical activity and resilience, positive affect, and depressive symptoms in older adults within COVID-19 restrictions.

Older adults from Spain who engaged in moderate-vigorous physical activity during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic lockdown showed improved mental health and well-being, a study published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry shows.

Researchers from the University of Oviedo in Oviedo, Spain, assessed the association between WHO recommendations for physical activity for older adults and psychological well-being during the country’s lockdown.

The cross-sectional study involved 483 adults aged 60 to 92 years (overall sample M 65.49±5.14; men 66.03±5.54; women 64.98±4.67), who all lived in Spain during the lockdown.

Participants answered an online questionnaire developed by the research team, which was distributed through press, television, and social media using a non-probability snowball sampling strategy.

Researchers collected responses during the first 3 weeks of mandatory confinement.

The questionnaire included questions on resilience using The Connor-Davidson CD-RISC resilience scale. The researchers also used the 20-item Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. Depressive symptoms were assessed using an adapted version of the Kandel and Davies scale.

The Physical Activity Questionnaire helped researchers gather information about walking, moderate and vigorous activity, as well as sedentary activity.

Study results demonstrated that adults who met the recommendations for vigorous physical activity and moderately vigorous activity had higher levels of resilience (locus of control, self-efficacy, and optimism), higher positive affect/attitude, and lower depressive symptoms. Vigorous activity specifically helped ease depressive symptoms.

Several study limitations were noted, including the small sample size. The study only included Spanish citizens and did not exclude for any chronic conditions. The researchers had no time during the pandemic to validate the scales and measures in an online format.

“It is advisable that those not meeting the recommendations for [physical activity] during their confinement should increase duration, frequency, and intensity of their physical activity in order to achieve psychological well-being benefits,” the researchers concluded.


Carriedo A, Cecchini JA, Fernandez-Rio J, Méndez-Giménez A. COVID-19, psychological well-being and physical activity levels in older adults during the nationwide lockdown in Spain [published online August 22, 2020]. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2020.08.007