Some researchers said that there has been a notable rise in people’s depression levels after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main factor behind the rise is the lack of exercises which was resulted after declaring lockdowns.
Study Finds Impacts Of Lockdowns On Mental Well-Being
During their study, the researchers conducted multiple mental health surveys among the students of the University of Pittsburgh. The total number of students who participated in the survey was 700. The initial launch of the surveys was held in pre-pandemic days and later on to the pandemic days, the researchers kept going on with their surveys.
Throughout the survey, wearable Fitbit devices were used to track the physical activity trends of the participants, and they were all in three successive groups.
According to the findings of the survey, the total number of steps taken by the students during the pre-pandemic days was approximately 10,000 in a day. The researchers found that this average was reduced to 4,600 in March 2020 when the nationwide lockdown was started in the U.S.
As there is a notable difference in physical activities, the clinical rates of depression also hiked from 32% to 61% according to their findings after tracking it between February and April, in 2020.
Since there is a visible change in these two averages, Silvia Saccardo, the study author and an assistant professor in the department of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg cautioned that it is not clear whether one caused the other. She said that it is because the exercise habits during the pandemic are only one of the factors or the big disruptions in lifestyle habits.
She indicated that there are certain other sub-factors behind the rise in the levels of depression apart from lockdowns.
There is a huge drop in the time of socializing, to less than 30 minutes in a day, which is probably a cut down of more than a half. At the same time, there is a remarkable mount up of screen time, more than double, i.e., 5 hours and more in a day. Besides, the students also slept 30 more than usual days before the pandemic.
Saccardo said that there is a general association between physical activities and mental well-being in terms of disorders like anxiety, and depression as well as their symptoms.
An additional experiment was conducted by the researchers last June as part of their study. This included a subset of students who were involved in a two-week program of exercises to boost them into the previous rate of 10,000 steps per day.
To the researchers’ surprise, Saccardo said that no change in mental health was gained after the study.
She theorized that to register a mental health impact, exercises may be required to be followed longer or more. She also said that there is also a probability that people who were during the pandemic days might be more social, who also might have preferred working out with their friends or involved in sports activities with teams. Saccardo added that, or else it may be important to intervene more directly into the mental well-being at the same time as physical activity.