Health Behaviors during the Early COVID-19 Containment Phase and Their Impact on Psychological Health

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The COVID-19 lockdowns have brought significant changes to individuals’ daily lives, including their health behaviors and psychological health. Longitudinal studies exploring changes in health behaviors during the course of the initial containment phase are relatively scarce. Our aim is to understand how health behaviors have evolved during different phases of the early COVID-19 lockdowns and assess the impact of these changes on psychological well-being. By doing so, we hope to provide valuable insights that can enhance the understanding of the relationship between health behaviors and psychological health, with relevance not only to everyday life but to times of crises. A longitudinal study among 313 adults in Israel (44.5 ± 13.4 years old, 80% women) at three timepoints, beginning with the first COVID-19 lockdown (April 2020) and extending through June 2020. In each wave, participants were asked to report about exercising, eating fruits and vegetables, sharing family meals, and screen time. The BSI (Brief Symptom Inventory) was used to assess psychological health. There was an initial increase in the frequency of exercising (3.06 + 2.3 times a week) and shared meals (breakfast, 3.97 + 2.3; lunch, 5.30 + 1.9; dinner, 5.75 + 1.7 times a day) followed by a subsequent significant decrease in these behaviors (exercising, 2.84 + 2.0; breakfast, 2.63 + 2.1; lunch, 3.48 + 2.3; dinner, 4.75 + 2.0). The health behaviors of more exercising (r = −0.145, p = 0.43) and less screen time (r = 0.183, p = 0.010) had a positive impact on psychological health. External events, such as the first COVID-19 lockdown, may influence health behaviors which may, in turn, influence psychological health. While prior studies have mainly highlighted the negative impact of the pandemic on health behaviors, our analyses suggest that the first containment phase may have had an initial beneficial impact on several health behaviors, including exercising and family meals. However, this change was not sustainable.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2051
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number14
StatePublished - 17 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • COVID-19
  • health behaviors
  • lockdown
  • psychological health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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