Effect of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Physical Activity in the Context of Mental Well-Being: A Multi-Country Comparison Among Higher Education Students

Andrea Lukács, Guido Van Hal


Regular physical activity (PA) plays a key role in maintaining physical and mental well-being; and even in pandemic time, it has special importance. This study investigated the changes in patterns of moderate and vigorous PA prior to and during coronavirus pandemic in a diverse sample of 125 higher education institutes from 26 countries. Association between mental well-being and changes in PA was also evaluated. Data for the present study has been used from the “COVID-19 International Student Well-being Study” (2020). 88,270 students of higher education aged 23.29 SD=5.70 years (72.8% females) completed an online questionnaire. Results indicated a global decrease both in moderate and vigorous PA, with women becoming more active than their male counterparts during pandemic time. There was a relationship between the change in physical activity pattern and the mental well-being. The most unfavourable mental well-being was observed in students who reduced or stopped PA. During pandemic, PA has been decreased globally; however, a group of students, particularly female students, took the opportunity to increase the amount of PA. The changes in PA before and prior to the pandemic relate to mental well-being. Implementation of promoting PA during pandemic time has a public health issue.


coronavirus, mental health, pandemic, physical activity, students

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14267/CJSSP.2022.2.6


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ISSN: 2062-087X

DOI: 10.14267/issn.2062-087X