The Mental Health Benefits of Physical Activity in Older Adults Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic




To determine the relationship between the amount and intensity of physical activity performed by older adults in North America (U.S. and Canada) and their depression and anxiety symptoms while currently under social distancing guidelines (SDG) for the COVID-19 pandemic.


Descriptive Cross-sectional Study.


Online survey conducted between April 9th and April 30th, 2020, during the COVD-19 pandemic.


1046 older adults over the age of 50 who live in North America.


Participants were asked about their basic demographic information, current health status, and the impact of the current SDG on their subjective state of mental health. Participants completed the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE), to determine the amount and intensity of physical activity performed, as well as both the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and Geriatric Anxiety Scale (GAS), to ascertain the extent of their depression and anxiety-like symptoms.


97% of participants indicated that they adhered to current SDG “Most of the time” or “Strictly.” Participants who performed greater levels of physical activity experienced lower levels of depression-like symptoms when age, sex, and education were accounted for; however, no relationship between physical activity and anxiety-like symptoms was found. A hierarchical regression analysis that incorporated the intensity of physical activity performed (light, moderate, and vigorous) in the model indicated that greater light and strenuous activity, but not moderate, predicted lower depression-like symptoms.


These results suggest that performing even light physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic may help alleviate some of the negative mental health impacts that older adults may be experiencing while isolated and adhering to SDG during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The recent worldwide outbreak of a new type of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has reached over 140 countries and has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization [


Predictors of Mortality for Patients with COVID-19 Pneumonia Caused by SARS-CoV-2: A Prospective Cohort Study.