COVID-19 profoundly impacted the world by causing disruptions in the global job markets due to business closures to support physical distancing in the earliest stages of the pandemic. To maintain basic societal function in the early stages of the pandemic, workers were classified based on the nature of their employment responsibilities as essential (i.e., continued working outside the home) and non-essential (i.e., required to work from home). Using a cross-sectional design, this study identified the lifestyle behaviors (sleep, diet, physical activity) and mood among US workers. An internet-based survey was used to collect data from US adults from April 13 to May 4, 2020. Survey questions focused on sleep, diet, physical activity, mood, grit, mental workload, and hours worked. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to describe differences in outcomes of interest across a 4-category variable combining sex and essential worker status (i.e., male essential, male non-essential, female essential, and female non-essential). The sample of 631 US adults (mean age = 35.99±12.17) was primarily female (72%), employed full-time (80.5%), and had at least a bachelor’s degree (85.8%). Statistically significant differences were observed between groups based on sleep, diet, physical activity, and mood. While sex-based differences were identified between lifestyle factors and moods, both male and female essential workers slept better, were more physically active, and reported better moods than their non-essential counterparts. Findings suggest that sex and work status may have impacted physical and mental health during the earliest stages of COVID-19. The associated long-term consequences of work responsibilities during the earliest stages of the pandemic remain unknown and require further study.

Author ORCID Identifier

Smith: 0000-0002-8232-9285

Boolani: 0000-0002-2261-4498

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License