Physical activity, screen time, and emotional well-being during the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in China

Fei Qin, Yiqing Song, George P. Nassis, Lina Zhao, Yanan Dong, Cuicui Zhao, Yiwei Feng, Jiexiu Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


We aimed to evaluate the effects of the COVID-19 lock down on lifestyle in China during the initial stage of the pandemic. A questionnaire was distributed to Chinese adults living in 31 provinces of China via the internet using a snowball sampling strategy. Information on 7-day physical activity recall, screen time, and emotional state were collected between January 24 and February 2, 2020. ANOVA, χ2 test, and Spearman’s correlation coefficients were used for statistical analysis. 12,107 participants aged 18–80 years were included. During the initial phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly 60% of Chinese adults had inadequate physical activity (95% CI 56.6%–58.3%), which was more than twice the global prevalence (27.5%, 25.0%–32.2%). Their mean screen time was more than 4 hours per day while staying at home (261.3 ± 189.8 min per day), and the longest screen time was found in young adults (305.6 ± 217.5 min per day). We found a positive and significant correlation between provincial proportions of confirmed COVID-19 cases and negative affect scores (r = 0.501, p = 0.004). Individuals with vigorous physical activity appeared to have a better emotional state and less screen time than those with light physical activity. During this nationwide lockdown, more than half of Chinese adults temporarily adopted a sedentary lifestyle with insufficient physical activity, more screen time, and poor emotional state, which may carry considerable health risks. Promotion of home-based self-exercise can potentially help improve health and wellness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5170
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Lockdown
  • Physical activity
  • Psychological impact
  • Screen time
  • Sedentary lifestyle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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