Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Tom Andre

Second Advisor

Allison Ford-Wade

Third Advisor

Mark Loftin

Relational Format

Dissertation/thesis

Abstract

Objective: To assess the associations between physical activity, subjective well-being (SWB), and social media influences before, during, and after the 2020 COVID-19 period among college-aged students. Participants: Male and female students from the University of Mississippi who were between the ages of 18-25 volunteered to participate in this study. Out of 10,000 invitation emails distributed, a total of 290 individuals responded and were used for the subsequent analysis. Results: Almost half of the respondents (46.1%) noted a decrease in physical activity from before March-May (M-M) 2020 to during M-M 2020. In addition, 41% of the respondents reported an increase in weight during M-M 2020, while 69% of these respondents noted to be engaging in moderate physical activity during this time as well. The majority of the respondents (76.4%) said their social media exposure increased during M-M 2020. Respondents following fitness/health influencers on social media increased by 9.3% from before M-M 2020 to during M-M 2020, and decreased by 10.4% from during M-M 2020 to return-to-campus (time since August 2020). Data also showed that there was an increase (32.7%) in negative body image perceptions from before to during M-M 2020. Conclusion: College students appeared to be more avid users of social media for work out videos during M-M 2020, but this did not seem to have a carry-over effect on their mental or emotional health. The decrease in physical activity and increase body weight reported in the study might then be explained as a declination of self-efficacy among individuals. Further research is needed to identify and confirm the present findings, new modes of communication and encouragement from fitness/health influencers, health practitioners, and university health resources should be discussed to better support the physical and mental wellbeing of college students.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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