Effects of changes in physical and sedentary behaviors on mental health and life satisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic : Evidence from China

Xi CHEN*, Haiyan GAO, Binbin SHU, Yuchun ZOU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: While restriction measures are critical in containing the COVID-19 outbreak, limited studies have investigated the behavioral and psychological impact of these measures. This study aimed to investigate the effects of physical and sedentary behavioral changes and online behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and life satisfaction among the Chinese population.

Methods: The data were obtained from a cross-sectional survey of 2145 residents aged between 18 and 80 in Hubei province, China between March 23, 2020, and April 9, 2020. 

Results: Participants who had high frequencies of physical activities before or during the COVID-19 outbreak exhibited higher levels of life satisfaction. Participants who increased their sitting time during the pandemic or kept sitting for more than eight hours before and during the pandemic reported worse mental health than those who maintained less sedentary behavior. Besides, participants who used the Internet for information seeking, communication, and entertainment more frequently reported better mental health and life satisfaction. In contrast, there was a positive association between commercial use of the Internet and symptoms of mental disorders. 

Conclusion: Given the link between physical and sedentary behavioral changes with worse mental wellbeing, strategies to reduce sedentariness and increase physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0269237
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding: This work was supported by the National Social Science Fund of China (grant no. 16ZDA079). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • China/epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Young Adult


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