COVID-19 and Physical Activity in University of Florida Students: A Survey Study


  • Noah Towbin College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Florida
  • Danielle Jake-Schoffman Department of Health Education and Behavior, University of Florida



COVID-19, physical activity, digital health, university students


Background: COVID-19 disruptions may have impacted physical activity (PA) levels, especially among undergraduates relying on campus resources. The objectives of this project were to investigate how COVID-19 disruptions impacted PA in University of Florida (UF) undergraduates and to assess interest in digital PA interventions.

Design: Full-time, residential UF students ages 18-24 without physical limitations to PA were eligible to participate. An online survey asked about PA levels at three timepoints: before COVID-19 (February 2020; T1), during initial disruptions (June 2020; T2), and at the time of the survey (December 2020; T3). Participants reported PA enjoyment, interest in digital PA interventions, and demographics. Data are summarized descriptively, and chi-square tests explore the relationship between PA enjoyment and meeting PA recommendations.

Results: Participants with complete data (n=200) are included in analyses. On average, they were 19.8 years old with a BMI of 22.9 kg/m2; 71.0% female, 70.0% white, and 77.0% non-Hispanic. More participants met PA guidelines at T1 (52.0%) than at T2 (49.5%) or T3 (43.5%); >50% maintained similar PA levels across all timepoints. At T2, most participants transitioned to independent (89.0%), at-home (82.5%) workouts. Participants reporting high PA enjoyment were more likely to meet PA guidelines than those with low enjoyment at each timepoint (ps<0.05). Participants preferred app-based (78.2%) digital PA interventions containing workout ideas (71.9%) and maps of local trails (76.1%).

Conclusions: Given changes in PA characteristics, additional research could explore the impacts of vaccination and COVID-19 variants on PA levels and the implementation of digital PA interventions.


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