p-ISSN: 1300-0551
e-ISSN: 2587-1498

Ömer Serkan Kara1, Gökhan Büyüklüoğlu2, Nihan Büyüklüoğlu3, Selçuk Gül4, Mehmet Mesut Çelebi2, Hasan Kaya3

1Department of Sports Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey
2Department of Sports Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey
3Psychiatry Section, Ankara City Hospital, Ankara, Turkey
4Sports Medicine Section, Erzurum State Hospital, Erzurum, Turkey

Keywords: professional athletes, physical activity, COVID-19, anxiety, mental toughness


Objective: Although the COVID-19 outbreak affected almost all the people globally, the number of studies investigating the effects on professional athletes are very low. Therefore, we aimed to examine anxiety levels, mental toughness and daily habits of professional and recreational athletes during the early phase of the pandemic and compare these with sedentary control objects.

Materials and Methods: 634 participants were evaluated in April 2020 with an online survey consisted of sociodemographic data, exercise habits and outbreak-related questions, along with Turkish versions of Sports Mental Toughness Questionnaire (SMTQ) and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). 329 of the participants were professional athletes, 135 were recreational athletes and 170 were sedentary people.

Results: Professional athletes (PROs) scored significantly higher (p<0.017) than recreatio-nal athletes (RECRs) and sedentary people (SEDs) on SMTQ and State-Anxiety Scores, but not on Trait-Anxiety Score (p˃0.05). Besides, there were no significant differences between RECRs and SEDs on any of the scores (p˃0.05). For SMTQ scores; activity level, gender and age are found to be significantly predictive. State-Anxiety scores were only significantly correlated with activity levels, whereas, gender and age were significantly correlated with the Trait-Anxiety scores (p<0.05).

Conclusion: Being a high-level professional athlete is related to higher state anxiety levels during the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though professional athletes are mentally tougher, which will help them cope with high anxiety levels, they may need extra psychologic support as long as the pandemic and restrictions continue.

Cite this article as: Kara OS, Buyukluoglu G, Buyukluoglu N, Gul S, Celebi M, Kaya H. Professional athletes have higher anxiety levels during COVID-19 outbreak compared to recreational athletes and sedentary people. Turk J Sports Med. 2021;56(2).73-80.; http://dx.doi.org/10.47447/tjsm.0502

Conflict of Interest

The authors declared no conflicts of interest with respect to authorship and/or publication of the article.

Financial Disclosure

The authors received no financial support for the research and/or publication of this article.


The authors thank Dr.İsmail Kaya from Gülhane Training and Research Hospital, Ankara and Dr.Uğur Diliçıkık from İstanbul Başakşehir City Hospital, İstanbul for their assistance during the data collection, and Yankı Çobanoğlu from Ayndo, Netherlands and Deniz Özcan from Distant Tech, Ankara for their assistance in editing the manuscript. No funding was received related to this article.