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The Protective Roles of Exercise and Maintenance of Daily Living Routines for Chinese Adolescents During the COVID-19 Quarantine Period

      Abstract

      Purpose

      Adolescents are particularly vulnerable during the COVID-19 quarantine periods and may be at risk for developing psychological distress symptoms that extend beyond a crisis, including depression. This study examined adolescents’ postquarantine depressive symptoms associated with pandemic stressors. The primary aim was to identify potential protective factors that may buffer the association between the presence of COVID-19 cases in adolescents’ communities and their postquarantine depressive symptoms.

      Methods

      Adolescents from public schools were recruited from Zhengzhou city, Henan, China (N = 1,487, Mage=13.14 years, 50% girls). Adolescents reported the presence of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases in their communities, their daily activities and routines during the 2-month quarantine period, and depressive symptoms after the quarantine period.

      Results

      The presence of cases in adolescents’ communities during the quarantine contributed to more depressive symptoms in adolescents after the quarantine. This association was buffered by adolescents’ spending more time on physical activities and better maintenance of daily living routines during the quarantine period. The presence of community infection was also more strongly associated with depressive symptoms in older adolescents.

      Conclusions

      The presence of COVID-19 cases in communities contributed to adolescents’ poorer mental health, and the association was stronger for older adolescents. Spending time on physical activities and maintaining daily living routines during the quarantine appear to be practical strategies that can be used by adolescents to mitigate the association between pandemic stressors and their diminishing mental health.

      Keywords

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