CQ researchers find decline in healthy habits
CENTRAL Queensland researchers have found that Australians have had poor sleep, were exercising less, and were drinking and smoking more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A national CQUniversity study looked at how changes in behaviour influenced depression, anxiety, and stress during the pandemic.
Lead researcher Dr Robert Stanton said the online survey examined the link between psychological distress and changes in health behaviours since the onset of COVID-19 in Australia.
"The biggest message from this study is that the reported negative changes in health behaviour, such as reduced physical activity, poorer sleep quality, and increased smoking and alcohol intake, are all associated with increased depression, anxiety and distress," Dr Stanton said.
Out of 1500 people, 48.9 per cent said they had been less active than before the pandemic, and 40.7 per cent also reported poorer sleep quality.
The survey suggested that 26.6 per cent of people had increased their alcohol consumption and 6.9 per cent were smoking more.
Women, single people, low income earners, and those with chronic illnesses were affected more than those in other categories.
Dr Stanton said the study highlighted the need for a variety of health-promotion strategies to help people adopt or maintain healthy behaviours.
"It is our recommendation that effective health promotion strategies, such as targeted social media messaging and balanced media reporting, be used to reduce the acute and chronic increases in psychological distress during these unprecedented times," Dr Stanton said.
Dr Stanton's article based on the study, Depression, Anxiety and Stress during COVID-19: Associations with Changes in Physical Activity, Sleep, Tobacco and Alcohol Use in Australian Adults, was recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The researchers will conduct follow up surveys over the coming months to see how the trends seen in the first study change into the future.