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PLoS One ; 16(4): e0239244, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1167001


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health, physical activity, and sedentary behavior of people worldwide. According to the Health Belief Model (HBM), health-related behavior is determined by perceived barriers and motivators. Using an online survey with 1669 respondents, we sought to understand why and how physical activity and sedentary behavior has changed by querying about perceived barriers and motivators to physical activity that changed because of the pandemic, and how those changes impacted mental health. The following results were statistically significant at p < .05. Consistent with prior reports, our respondents were less physically active (aerobic activity, -11%; strength-based activity, -30%) and more sedentary (+11%) during the pandemic as compared to 6-months before. The pandemic also increased psychological stress (+22%) and brought on moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Respondents' whose mental health deteriorated the most were also the ones who were least active (depression r = -.21, anxiety r = -.12). The majority of respondents were unmotivated to exercise because they were too anxious (+8%,), lacked social support (+6%), or had limited access to equipment (+23%) or space (+41%). The respondents who were able to stay active reported feeling less motivated by physical health outcomes such as weight loss (-7%) or strength (-14%) and instead more motivated by mental health outcomes such as anxiety relief (+14%). Coupled with previous work demonstrating a direct relationship between mental health and physical activity, these results highlight the potential protective effect of physical activity on mental health and point to the need for psychological support to overcome perceived barriers so that people can continue to be physically active during stressful times like the pandemic.

COVID-19 , Exercise/psychology , Mental Health , Motivation , Sedentary Behavior , Stress, Psychological/psychology , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Anxiety , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/psychology , Depression , Female , Health Behavior , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Surveys and Questionnaires , Young Adult
Front Public Health ; 8: 593916, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-972864


Objective: Emerging research within school settings suggests acute forms of physical activity and exercise lead to improvements in executive functioning among children. However, research pertaining to these effects within the afterschool setting remains limited. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the acute effects of a community-based afterschool running and reading program on executive functioning in 8 to 12-year-old children. Method: Fifty participants were initially recruited to participate in this study. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data collection was terminated prematurely which resulted in a sample size of 15 participants. Participants (N = 10) from School 1 completed two batteries of executive function assessments (i.e., inhibition, switching, and updating) separated by 15-min of running or 15-min of sedentary reading. Whereas, only 5 participants from School 2 completed assessments of executive functioning prior to and following the running portion of the program (due to the early termination of data collection). Results: Overall, executive function scores improved across each assessment following the running condition when compared to the reading condition (School 1). Inhibition scores significantly improved, and these effects were very large (School 1). Across both schools, improvements in executive functioning following the running portion of the program ranged from small-large in effect size. Conclusion: Findings from the present study provide initial evidence for the acute effects of a community-based afterschool running and reading program on executive functioning in children. Future research with larger samples in afterschool settings is recommended to replicate this preliminary work.

Educational Status , Executive Function/physiology , Exercise Therapy/methods , Health Promotion/methods , Reading , Sedentary Behavior , Child , Female , Humans , Male