Differential effects of COVID-19 lockdowns on well-being: interaction between age, gender and chronotype

J R Soc Interface. 2021 Jun;18(179):20210078. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2021.0078. Epub 2021 Jun 2.


The unprecedented restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic altered our daily habits and severely affected our well-being and physiology. The effect of these changes is yet to be fully understood. Here, we analysed highly detailed data on 169 participants for two to six months, before and during the second COVID-19 lockdown in Israel. We extracted 12 well-being indicators from sensory data of smartwatches and from self-reported questionnaires, filled daily using a designated mobile application. We found that, in general, lockdowns resulted in significant changes in mood, sleep duration, sport duration, social encounters, resting heart rate and number of steps. Examining subpopulations, we found that younger participants (aged 20-40 years) suffered from a greater decline in mood and number of steps than older participants (aged 60-80 years). Likewise, women suffered from a higher increase in stress and reduction in social encounters than men. Younger early chronotypes did not increase their sleep duration and exhibited the highest drop in mood. Our findings underscore that while lockdowns severely impacted our well-being and physiology in general, greater damage has been identified in certain subpopulations. Accordingly, special attention should be given to younger people, who are usually not in the focus of social support, and to women.

Keywords: COVID-19; differential effects; lockdown; smartwatch.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Social Support

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare. c.5446459