OBJECTIVE: We examined how professional athletes are affected by COVID-19. Our primary aim was to assess changes in mental health that occurred after COVID-19 restrictions, and our secondary aim was to assess changes in exercise volume and intensity.DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.SETTING: United States.PARTICIPANTS: Strava professional endurance athletes.ASSESSMENT OF RISK FACTORS: Participants completed a survey, and a subset of participants consented to have their activity data analyzed. The survey included questions on COVID-19 symptoms, exercise, and mental health, as measured by a modified Patient Health Questionnaire.MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants were asked about 2 periods in 2020: before COVID-19 (January 1-March 14) and during COVID-19 (March 15-August 25), and activity data from both periods were downloaded. Activity data consisted of Global Positioning System and self-reported uploads.RESULTS: One hundred thirty-one male and female Strava athletes were enrolled, and a subset of athletes (n = 114) consented to have their activity data analyzed. During COVID-19 restrictions, 22.2% of participants reported feeling down or depressed and 27.4% of participants reported feeling nervous or anxious at least half the days in a week compared with 3.8% and 4.6% before COVID-19 restrictions, respectively (P < 0.0001). Activity data revealed a significant increase (P < 0.0001) in exercise minutes per day during COVID-19 (mean = 103.00, SD = 42.1) compared with before COVID-19 restrictions (mean = 92.4, SD = 41.3), with no significant changes in intensity.CONCLUSIONS: Athletes reported significant increases in feeling down or depressed and nervous or anxious despite an increase in exercise duration during COVID-19. Future research should assess how to support athletes with mental health resources.
View details for DOI 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000983
View details for PubMedID 34711711