Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a spike in deleterious mental health . This dual-center retrospective cross-sectional study assessed the prevalence of depression in young adults during this pandemic and explored its association with various physical fitness measures .
Methods: This study enrolled 12,889 (80% female) young adults (mean age 20 ± 1) who performed a National Student Physical Fitness battery from December 1st, 2019, to January 20th, 2020, and completed a questionnaire including Beck's Depression Inventory in May 2020 . Independent associations between prior physical fitness and depression during the pandemic were assessed using multivariable linear and binary logistic regressions accordingly, covariates including age, dwelling location, economic level, smoking, alcohol, living status, weight change, and exercise volume during the pandemic . Sex- and baseline stress-stratified analyses were performed .
Results: Of the study population 13.9% of men and 15.0% of women sampled qualified for a diagnosis of depression . After multivariable adjustment, anaerobic (mean change 95% CI -3.3 [-4.8 to 1.8] ) aerobic (-1.5 [-2.64 to -0.5] ), explosive (-1.64 [-2.7 to -0.6] ) and muscular (-1.7 [-3.0 to -0.5] ) fitness were independently and inversely associated with depression for the overall population . These remained consistent after sex- and baseline stress-stratification . In binary logistic regression, the combined participants with moderate, high or excellent fitness also showed a much lower risk compared to those least fit in anaerobic (odd ratio (OR) 95% CI 0.68 [0.55-0.82] ), aerobic (0.80 [0.68-0.91] ), explosive (0.72 [0.61-0.82] ), and muscular (0.66 [0.57-0.75] ) fitness .
Conclusions: These findings suggest that prior physical fitness may be inversely associated with depression in young adults during a pandemic.
Index: COVID-19, Depression, Exercise, Mental health, Physical fitness