Different types of physical activity are positively associated with indicators of mental health and psychological wellbeing in rheumatoid arthritis during COVID-19

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Sophia M. Brady
  • George S. Metsios
  • Ailsa Bosworth
  • George D. Kitas

Colleges, School and Institutes


Nationwide lockdowns during SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) can compromise mental health and psychological wellbeing and limit opportunities for physical activity (PA), particularly in clinical populations, such as people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), who are considered at risk for COVID-19 complications. This study aimed to investigate associations between PA and sedentary time (ST) with indicators of mental health and wellbeing in RA during COVID-19 lockdown, and examine the moderation effects of self-isolating. 345 RA patients completed an online questionnaire measuring PA (NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study Questionnaire), ST (International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form), pain (McGill Pain Questionnaire and Visual Analogue Scale), fatigue (Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory), depressive and anxious symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), and vitality (Subjective Vitality Scale) during the United Kingdom COVID-19 lockdown. Associations between PA and ST with mental health and wellbeing were examined using hierarchical multiple linear regressions. Light PA (LPA) was significantly negatively associated with mental fatigue (β = - .11), depressive symptoms (β = - .14), and positively with vitality (β = .13). Walking was negatively related to physical fatigue (β = - .11) and depressive symptoms (β = - .12) and positively with vitality (β = .15). Exercise was negatively associated with physical (β = - .19) and general (β = - .12) fatigue and depressive symptoms (β = - .09). ST was positively associated with physical fatigue (β = .19). Moderation analyses showed that LPA was related to lower mental fatigue and better vitality in people not self-isolating, and walking with lower physical fatigue in people self-isolating. These findings show the importance of encouraging PA for people with RA during a lockdown period for mental health and wellbeing.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: This work was completed as part of a PhD studentship supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC)-Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research (CMAR) (grant number: MR/K00414X/1). Publisher Copyright: © 2020, The Author(s).


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalRheumatology International
Early online date30 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Nov 2020


  • COVID-19, Mental health, Physical activity, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sedentary behaviour, Self-isolation

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