Exploring the Experience of Physical Activity in the US During COVID-19 by Age, Gender and Race

Oral Presentation C3.2


  • Michelle D'Abundo Seton Hall University
  • Paul F. Franco Seton Hall University




Physical Activity, COVID-19, Qualitative, Age, Gender, Race


Background: Participation in physical activity (PA) is important to maintaining health and well-being. According to Healthy People 2020 (2020), more than 80% of adults did not meet the guidelines for PA prior to the pandemic. Prolonged quarantines can lead to sedentary lifestyles, which are associated with chronic health conditions (Chen et al., 2020; Mattioli et al., 2020). While many health professionals are purporting the need to stay healthy and physically active during COVID-19, there is little information about the general public’s PA in the US during the pandemic and less information with attention to demographic variables. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the experience of PA in the US during COVID-19 by age, gender, and race. Methods: A qualitative study using the Physical Activity During COVID-19 Questionnaire (PADCQ) was conducted January-March 2021 online via SurveyMonkey®. The instrument consisted of 8 demographic items and 9 survey questions, two of which are the focus of this abstract: 1) Compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, are you currently more physically active, less or about the same? and 2) What role is physical activity playing in your life today? Data from 235 respondents were exported from Excel into Atlas.ti for analysis including preparing data, open-coding, sorting codes, and organizing themes. Results: Preliminary responses indicated 43.4% of participants described themselves as less active, 22.1% as more active and 34.5% as about the same. 61.7% of felt PA had a positive role, 17% had a negative outlook on PA, 3.8% had both a positive and negative outlook and 17.4% acknowledged PA without being positive or negative. There were a variety of reasons for the positive PA-related responses including that it is important/vital, improves mental health/acuity and is a stress reliever. The negative outlook was primarily due to PA being a minor/minimal priority, work-out challenges and feelings of guilt surrounding PA. Response trends according to age, race and gender will also be presented. Conclusions: If predictions are correct, due to climate change and other factors, the occurrence of infectious outbreaks may increase and to maintain health and well-being, public health will need to tailor PA recommendations, programming, and measurement with attention to demographic variables. This information provides a baseline understanding of PA during COVID-19 and could be used to create PA promotion strategies and programs for situations where lifestyle is restricted or limited to home and/or local environments.



How to Cite

D’Abundo, M., & Franco, P. (2021). Exploring the Experience of Physical Activity in the US During COVID-19 by Age, Gender and Race: Oral Presentation C3.2. The Health & Fitness Journal of Canada, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.14288/hfjc.v14i3.659