Relationships among changes in walking and sedentary behaviors, individual attributes, changes in work situation, and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan

Prev Med Rep. 2021 Nov 15;24:101640. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101640. eCollection 2021 Dec.


Studies from many countries, including Japan, have reported decreased physical activity during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the individual attributes as related to changes in physical activity during the pandemic in Japan have been scarcely investigated. The present study explored the relationships among individual attributes including demographic, socioeconomic, and geographic characteristics, work situation changes, perception of anxiety, and changes in walking and sedentary behaviors, during the pandemic in Japan. To obtain data indicating individual circumstances during the first wave of the pandemic in Japan, we conducted a nationwide online survey from May 19 to May 23, 2020 (n = 1,200). To observe changes in walking behavior objectively and retrospectively, we collected data on the number of daily steps as measured by the iPhone's Health application. Path analysis was employed to examine relationships between individual attributes and changes in walking and sedentary behaviors. Decreased physical activity, especially, decreased walking behavior among younger individuals and those living in highest-density neighborhoods were identified. There was increased sedentary behavior among females. Moreover, individuals with higher socioeconomic status (SES) tended to become inactive due to work-from-home/standby-at-home and individuals with lower SES tended to become inactive due to decreased amount of work. Decreased walking behavior and increased sedentary behavior were associated with a perception of strong anxiety related to the pandemic. Our findings would be helpful in considering measures to counteract health risks during the pandemic by taking into account individual backgrounds.

Keywords: ADI, Area deprivation index; Anxiety; CFI, Comparative fit index; COVID-19; DID, Densely-inhabited-district; Japan; NPIs, Non-pharmaceutical interventions; Physical activity; RMSEA, Root mean square error of approximation; SES, Socioeconomic status; Sedentary behavior; SoE, State of emergency; Walking.