Psychological health and physical activity levels during the covid-19 pandemic: A systematic review

Verónica Violant-Holz, M. Gloria Gallego-Jiménez, Carina S. González-González, Sarah Muñoz-Violant, Manuel José Rodríguez, Oriol Sansano-Nadal, Myriam Guerra-Balic

Research output: Indexed journal article Reviewpeer-review

211 Citations (Scopus)


The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been devastating in all senses, particularly psychologically. Physical activity (PA) is known to aid psychological well-being, and it is worth investigating whether PA has been a coping strategy during this pandemic. The objective of this literature review is to analyze the extent to which engaging in PA during the COVID-19 pandemic impacts psychological health in the adult population. The literature was searched in all databases from the EBSCOhost Research Database—MEDLINE, APA PsycArticles, between others—published between 1 January 2019 and 15 July 2020. From 180 articles found, 15 were eligible. The reviewed articles showed an association between mental health distress—e.g., stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, social isolation, psychological distress—and PA. This research concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures caused psychological distress. Those studies that analyzed PA showed that, during quarantine, adults increased their sedentary time and reduced their PA levels, showing controversial psychological outcomes. This review discusses whether PA is an effective strategy to face the COVID-19 pandemic psychological effects contributing to a further putative increase in the prevalence of psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9419
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2020


  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus
  • Lockdown
  • Mental health
  • Pandemic
  • Physical activity
  • Psychological distress


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