Article Title



Lauren Elliott, Emma Cate Jones, Rebecca Rogers, Christopher Ballmann, FACSM, Patrick Marsh. Samford University, Birmingham, AL.

BACKGROUND: The effect of the initial COVID-19 lockdown on motivation, mental health, and physical activity (PA) has been studied considerably. Evidence largely suggests that PA decreased, and depression, anxiety, and stress increased during the lockdown compared to pre-COVID. Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation seemed to influence how each individual reacted to the onset of COVID-19. Now that vaccines are available, facilities are opening, and people are socializing, it is important to understand potential changes in PA, mental health, and motivation in college-age individuals. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to evaluate and compare current PA, mental health, and motivational trends in college-aged individuals to the initial COVID-19 lockdown. METHODS: A 40-question survey was conducted using Qualtrics. The survey consisted of three sections. The first section was taken from the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form (IPAQ-SF) where each question was asked twice, once assessing activity during the COVID-19 lockdown and once assessing current activity. In section two, the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Psychosocial Illness Impact-Negative Scale was used to assess mental health. In section three, questions evaluating motivation were developed using Marashi et al.’s (2021) study on mental health and physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants were asked to select all of the motivational factors that applied to them during the COVID-19 lockdown and all those that apply to them currently. RESULTS: Participants reported higher levels of vigorous physical activity currently (M=2.75 days/week, SD=1.97) than during the COVID-19 lockdown (M=2.41 days/week, SD=2.04). The numbers of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators reported were higher currently (M=3.21, SD=1.79 intrinsic; M=2.20, SD=0.98 extrinsic) than during the COVID-19 lockdown (M=2.52, SD=1.69 intrinsic; M=1.51, SD=1.06 extrinsic). CONCLUSIONS: After decreases in PA during the COVID-19 lockdown, there appears to be an increase in PA among college students following the lockdown. This increase in PA is accompanied by increased motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, to be physically active. The increased motivation for PA and accompanying increase in actual physical activity are positive signs for the well-being of college students following the COVID-19 lockdown.

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