According to a study by a group led by German researchers at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, the pandemic-induced lockdown tripled the risk of depression to about 45 per cent. The pandemic also reduced physical activity by about 40 per cent. While moderate exercise fell by 41 per cent, vigorous exercise fell by 42 per cent.
"Governments and those responsible for health systems should take our findings seriously," emphasised the team headed by Jan Wilke.
While about 13,500 reported their physical activity levels during the pandemic in April/May 2020, 15,000 reported their mental and physical well-being before and during the pandemic.
Of the respondents, the pandemic was found most noticeable among people over 70 years who reported being 56-67 per cent less active than before. "We know that physical inactivity, especially in older people, can lead to changes that are difficult to reverse after only two weeks -- for example, in body fat percentage or insulin sensitivity," the researchers said.
While 73% responded that their well-being deteriorated, the average quality of life as calculated by the WHO also fell from 68% before the pandemic to 52 per cent during it.
Regarding the risk of depression, which surged from 15 to 45 per cent, the study said, "These effects were stronger among women and younger people. More attention should be paid to the needs of women in particular, as they are significantly more vulnerable."