Physical Activity, Screen Time, and Emotional Well-Being during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak in China

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jul 17;17(14):5170. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17145170.


We aimed to evaluate the effects of the COVID-19 lock down on lifestyle in China during the initial stage of the pandemic. A questionnaire was distributed to Chinese adults living in 31 provinces of China via the internet using a snowball sampling strategy. Information on 7-day physical activity recall, screen time, and emotional state were collected between January 24 and February 2, 2020. ANOVA, χ² test, and Spearman's correlation coefficients were used for statistical analysis. 12,107 participants aged 18-80 years were included. During the initial phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly 60% of Chinese adults had inadequate physical activity (95% CI 56.6%-58.3%), which was more than twice the global prevalence (27.5%, 25.0%-32.2%). Their mean screen time was more than 4 hours per day while staying at home (261.3 ± 189.8 min per day), and the longest screen time was found in young adults (305.6 ± 217.5 min per day). We found a positive and significant correlation between provincial proportions of confirmed COVID-19 cases and negative affect scores (r = 0.501, p = 0.004). Individuals with vigorous physical activity appeared to have a better emotional state and less screen time than those with light physical activity. During this nationwide lockdown, more than half of Chinese adults temporarily adopted a sedentary lifestyle with insufficient physical activity, more screen time, and poor emotional state, which may carry considerable health risks. Promotion of home-based self-exercise can potentially help improve health and wellness.

Keywords: COVID-19; lockdown; physical activity; psychological impact; screen time; sedentary lifestyle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • COVID-19
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Emotions*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / psychology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Screen Time*
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult