Impact of the COVID-19 Epidemic on Lifestyle Behaviors and Their Association With Subjective Well-Being Among the General Population in Mainland China: Cross-Sectional Study

J Med Internet Res. 2020 Aug 25;22(8):e21176. doi: 10.2196/21176.


Background: The world is experiencing an unprecedented challenge due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, it is unclear whether people's lifestyles will change as a result.

Objective: The aim of this study is to explore perceived lifestyle changes after the outbreak of COVID-19 and their association with subjective well-being (SWB) among the general population in Mainland China.

Methods: An online survey was conducted in May 2020. Lifestyle behaviors including leisure-time physical exercise, leisure-time screen time, and dietary intake were self-reported. SWB was measured using the General Wellbeing Schedule (GWS). Other covariates including sociodemographic factors, self-rated physical health, perceived social support, and loneliness were also assessed by a structured questionnaire. A multivariate ordinal regression method was used to analyze the association between SWB and lifestyle behaviors as well as perceived lifestyle changes.

Results: A total of 1033 participants aged between 18 and 60 years were included in this study. The mean GWS score was 71.7 points. About 70% of the respondents reported spending more time looking at screens, whereas about 30% reported an increased frequency of vegetable and fruit intake after the outbreak of COVID-19. Inactive physical exercise (odds ratio [OR] 1.16, 95% CI 1.02-1.48), infrequent vegetable intake (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.10-1.90), infrequent fruit intake (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.01-1.70), and often skipping breakfast (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.08-1.91) were associated with lower SWB after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, self-rated physical health, perceived social support, and loneliness. Moreover, participants who perceived a decrease in the frequency of vegetable, fruit, and breakfast intake were more likely to report lower SWB.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic may have positive and negative impacts on different aspects of lifestyle behaviors. Both unhealthy lifestyle behaviors and negative lifestyle changes were associated with lower SWB. These findings provide scientific evidence that can inform lifestyle guidelines and public mental health interventions during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Keywords: COVID-19; coronavirus disease; lifestyle behaviors; subjective well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral* / epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult