Date of Award
Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management
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.
Larkin, Rachael, "Impact of COVID-19 on Physical Activity and Health Influences Among College Students" (2021). Honors Theses. 1771.
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