Work. 2022 Oct 20. doi: 10.3233/WOR-211161. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many restrictions that affected Turkey as well as other countries around the world. Restrictions on education, sports activities and social activities affected students physically and psychologically.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on weight gain, physical activity, and mental health among university students.
METHODS: The study included students of Pamukkale University aged between 18-25 years. Participants answered the online survey about changes in body composition and physical activity habits during the pandemic. International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was used to assess physical activity levels. Beck Depression Scale (BDS) was used to assess the mental health.
RESULTS: 848 (546 females, 302 males) students average aged 20,72±1,63 years were included in the study. When the physical activity times before and during the pandemic were compared, a statistically significant difference was found (p < 0.05). Multivariate analyses showed that higher BDS scores (p = 0.000) were significantly associated with increased weight gain. But there was no significant association with age and changes in physical activity time.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of the study showed that the COVID-19 pandemic has a negative effect on the physical activity level, weight gain and mental health of university students. Students reported an increase in weight during the pandemic. Also, the increase in depressive symptoms is related to higher levels of weight gain. Therefore, physical activity and mental health programmes should be offered to university students as an educational and health policy.