UBC researcher to study link between exercise, mental health among older adults during pandemic

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A researcher at the University of British Columbia says the COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity to study the relationship between exercise and mental health in adults who are 65 and older.

Mark Beauchamp, a professor of exercise and health psychology, said he is looking for volunteers from across the country to participate.

Beauchamp and a team of researchers are launching a study into the well-being of older people and examining their emotional state after they participate in physical exercise.

"I don't think anybody could even think of a study like this before the current pandemic," said Beauchamp.

The 12-week study will include data from 600 older adults from across the country who will take part in one of two exercise programs.

"We're looking to examine the extent to which different types of exercise programs are able to support the physical and mental health of older adults — so those who are 65 years or older currently living in Canada and who have been asked to stay at home and engage in physical distancing."

One is a virtual group-based exercise program that will allow for people to socially connect afterwards and there will be a chance to provide support online. The other is a personal exercise program with an instructor, but not in a group or a social setting.

Researchers will also be looking for answers about whether the social aspect of exercise affects mental health.

Beauchamp says people can sign up to be in the study at scopetrial2020.ca.