Research, Urban Planning, Environment and Health


Impact of the health crisis due to COVID-19 on Physical Activity and Mental Health in Spain

22/06/2020 - 31/12/2020
Mark Nieuwenhuijsen
Funded by
Own funding

On 14 March, the Spanish Government issued the guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 in which ordered Spanish citizens to shelter in place, and to only leave their homes for essential shopping or medical care, to temporarily close all educational centres (schools, high schools, universities) and workplaces (besides those offering essential shopping or medical care) and to keep social distancing while being in streets.

Strict lockdown and physical distancing measures may have caused a significant reduction in physical activity during the period of confinement and led to an increase in premature mortality. In fact, some studies suggest that populations have reduced their levels of physical exercise in 20-30%. However, the effects of these changes on physical activity engagement remain unknown.

Furthermore, during this public health crisis, mental health concerns like anxiety may have increased in the face of uncertainty. Previous research indicates that physical activity is associated with acute increases in positive affect; whereas, withdrawal from chronic physical activity is correlated to negative changes in general mood and well-being.

Therefore, the purpose of the ACTIVID study is to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 measures on physical activity levels, mental health and related behaviours in adults living in Spain. The specific aim is to assess how the COVID-19 crisis measures have affected the Spanish population physical activity, mental health and related behaviours.

This study follows a longitudinal design using a convenience sample of up to 2,000 Spanish adults to examine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity and mental health. Participants will complete a baseline questionnaire and a monthly follow-up questionnaire during 6 months. Participants owning a Garmin portable device will also be invited to share their data on physical activity levels.


Our Team


  • Mark J Nieuwenhuijsen
    Mark J Nieuwenhuijsen Research Professor, Director of the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative, and Director of the Air pollution and Urban Environment Programme

ISGlobal Team

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