Changes in College Students’ Body Mass Index, Physical Activity, and Motivation Before and During the COVID-19 Third-wave Lockdown

Yangyang Deng, YongJu Hwang, Taewoo Kim, Sami Yli-Piipari


Background: It is less known how the constraints placed upon public spaces and social interaction have impacted college students’ motivation to be physically active. Objective: This study examined, first, the changes in college students’ body mass index (BMI), physical activity (PA), and self-determined motivation before and during the COVID-19 third-wave lockdown and, second, the role of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and self-determined motivation on BMI during the lockdown. Method: This study was a longitudinal prospective study with two data collection phases. A sample of 104 college students (69 females, 35 males, Mage = 18.19[1.5]) completing both pre- and posttest data turned in self-report data on BMI, PA (vigorous PA - VPA, moderate PA - MPA), MVPA, and self-determined motivation. Results: The results showed a statistically significant increase in participants’ BMI (t[79] = 4.70[2.98], p =.001, d =.11) but no statistically significant changes in PA. The findings demonstrated changes in college students’ integrated regulation (↓; t[78]= -3.20[.16], p =.002, d =.35), identified regulation (↓; t[76] = -4.07[.16], p <.001, d =.52), extrinsic regulation (↑; t[78] = 2.28[1.80], p =.025, d =.02), and amotivation (↑; t[78] = 4.42[1.21], p <.001, d =.48). Finally, neither PA nor self-determined motivation played a role in BMI, but the previous MVPA and BMI did. Conclusion: This study suggests that COVID-19 had a negative impact on self-determined motivation decreasing adaptive and increasing maladaptive motivation. However, neither MVPA nor self-determined motivation played a role in BMI during the COVID-19 lockdown. Instead, pre-COVID BMI (large effect) and MVPA (small effect) determined students’ BMI during the lockdown.


Obesity, Motivation, Young Adult, Body Weight, COVID-19

Full Text:



Ammar, A., Brach, M., Trabelsi, K., Chtourou, H., Boukhris, O., Masmoudi, L., ... & Hoekelmann, A. (2021). Effects of COVID-19 home confinement on eating behaviour and physical activity: Results of the ECLB-COVID19 international online survey. Nutrients, 12(6), 1583.

Barkley, J. E., Lepp, A., Glickman, E., Farnell, G., Beiting, J., Wiet, R., & Dowdell, B. (2020). The acute effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity and sedentary behavior in university students and employees. International Journal of Exercise Science, 13(5), 1326–1339.

Bray, S. R., & Born, H. A. (2004). Transition to university and vigorous physical activity: Implications for health and psychological well-being. Journal of American College Health, 52(4), 181-188.

Cardel, M. I., Atkinson, M. A., Taveras, E. M., Holm, J. C., & Kelly, A. S. (2020). Obesity treatment among adolescents: a review of current evidence and future directions. JAMA Pediatrics, 174(6), 609-617.

Craig, C. L., Marshall, A. L., Sjöström, M., Bauman, A. E., Booth, M. L., Ainsworth, B. E., ... & Oja, P. (2003). International physical activity questionnaire: 12-country reliability and validity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35(8), 1381-1395.

Corder, K., Winpenny, E., Love, R., Brown, H. E., White, M., & Van Sluijs, E. (2019). Change in physical activity from adolescence to early adulthood: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal cohort studies. British journal of sports medicine, 53(8), 496-503.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The" what" and" why" of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227-268.

Deng, Y., Hwang, Y., Campbell, S., McCullick, B. A., & Yli-Piipari, S. (2021). Institutional factors associated with college students’ healthy physical activity and body composition: A first semester follow-up. Journal of American College Health, 1-9. 10.1080/07448481.2021.1922416

Donnelly, J. E., Blair, S. N., Jakicic, J. M., Manore, M. M., Rankin, J. W., & Smith, B. K. (2009). Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(2), 459-471.

Egli, T., Bland, H. W., Melton, B. F., & Czech, D. R. (2011). Influence of age, sex, and race on college students’ exercise motivation of physical activity. Journal of American College Health, 59(5), 399-406.! Hyperlink reference not valid.10.1080/07448481.2010.513074

Fogelholm, M., & Kukkonen‐Harjula, K. (2000). Does physical activity prevent weight gain–a systematic review. Obesity Reviews, 1(2), 95-111.

Fortier, M. S., Sweet, S. N., O’Sullivan, T. L., & Williams, G. C. (2007). A self-determination process model of physical activity adoption in the context of a randomized controlled trial. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 8(5), 741-757.

Hagströmer, M., Oja, P., & Sjöström, M. (2006). The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ): a study of concurrent and construct validity. Public Health Nutrition, 9(6), 755-762.

G*Power (2021). G*Power 3.1. manual. Retrieved from

Huang, T. T. K., Harris, K. J., Lee, R. E., Nazir, N., Born, W., & Kaur, H. (2003). Assessing overweight, obesity, diet, and physical activity in college students. Journal of American College Health, 52(2), 83-86.

Hwang, Y., Manninen, M., Waller, S., Deng, Y., Schmidt, M., Evans, E. M., Chen, S., & Yli-Piipari, S. (2022). Short- and longer-term psychological and behavioral effects of exergaming and traditional aerobic training: A randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 1-18

Irwin, J. D. (2004). Prevalence of university students' sufficient physical activity: a systematic review. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 98(3), 927-943.

Jakicic, J. M., Powell, K. E., Campbell, W. W., Dipietro, L., Pate, R. R., Pescatello, L. S., Collins, K. A., Bloodgood, B., Piercy, K. L., & 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. (2019). Physical Activity and the Prevention of Weight Gain in Adults: A Systematic Review. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51(6), 1262–1269.

Keating, X. D., Guan, J., Piñero, J. C., & Bridges, D. M. (2005). A meta-analysis of college students' physical activity behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 54(2), 116-126.

Keel, P. K., Gomez, M. M., Harris, L., Kennedy, G. A., Ribeiro, J., & Joiner, T. E. (2020). Gaining “The Quarantine 15:” Perceived versus observed weight changes in college students in the wake of COVID‐19. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53(11), 1801-1808.

Kwan, M. Y., Cairney, J., Faulkner, G. E., & Pullenayegum, E. E. (2012). Physical activity and other health-risk behaviors during the transition into early adulthood: a longitudinal cohort study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 42(1), 14-20.

Looi, M. K. (2020). Covid-19: Is a second wave hitting Europe? BMJ, 8266(5), e371.

López-Valenciano, A., Suárez-Iglesias, D., Sanchez-Lastra, M. A., & Ayán, C. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on university students' physical activity levels: an early systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 3787.

Lowry, R., Galuska, D. A., Fulton, J. E., Wechsler, H., Kann, L., & Collins, J. L. (2000). Physical activity, food choice, and weight management goals and practices among US college students. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 18(1), 18-27.

Maltby, J., & Day, L. (2001). The relationship between exercise motives and psychological well-being. The Journal of Psychology, 135(6), 651-660.

Manninen, M., Deng, Y., Hwang, Y., Waller, S., & Yli-Piipari, S. (2022). Psychological need-supportive instruction improves novel skill performance, intrinsic motivation, and enjoyment: a cluster-randomised study. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 20(1), 122-146.

Markland, D., & Tobin, V. (2004). A modification to the behavioural regulation in exercise questionnaire to include an assessment of amotivation. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 26(2), 191-196.

Owen, K. B., Smith, J., Lubans, D. R., Ng, J. Y., & Lonsdale, C. (2014). Self-determined motivation and physical activity in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Preventive Medicine, 67, 270-279.

Pelletier, L. G., & Dion, S. C. (2007). An examination of general and specific motivational mechanisms for the relations between body dissatisfaction and eating behaviors. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26(3), 303-333.

Piercy, K. L., Troiano, R. P., Ballard, R. M., Carlson, S. A., Fulton, J. E., Galuska, D. A., ... & Olson, R. D. (2018). The physical activity guidelines for Americans. Jama, 320(19), 2020-2028.

Pope, L., Hansen, D., & Harvey, J. (2017). Examining the weight trajectory of college students. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 49(2), 137-141.

Quick, V., Byrd-Bredbenner, C., Shoff, S., White, A. A., Lohse, B., Horacek, T., ... & Greene, G. (2015). Concordance of self-report and measured height and weight of college students. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 47(1), 94-98.

Racette, S. B., Deusinger, S. S., Strube, M. J., Highstein, G. R., & Deusinger, R. H. (2008). Changes in weight and health behaviors from freshman through senior year of college. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 40(1), 39-42.

Rankin, J., Matthews, L., Cobley, S., Han, A., Sanders, R., Wiltshire, H. D., & Baker, J. S. (2016). Psychological consequences of childhood obesity: psychiatric comorbidity and prevention. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 14(7),125-146.

Romero-Blanco, C., Rodríguez-Almagro, J., Onieva-Zafra, M. D., Parra-Fernández, M. L., Prado-Laguna, M. D. C., & Hernández-Martínez, A. (2020). Physical activity and sedentary lifestyle in university students: Changes during confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(18), 6567.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. New York: NY: Guilford Publications.

Sibley, B. A., Hancock, L., & Bergman, S. M. (2013). University students' exercise behavioral regulation, motives, and physical fitness. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 116(1), 322-339.

Silva, M. N., Markland, D., Carraca, E. V., Vieira, P. N., Coutinho, S. R., Minderico, C. S., ... & Teixeira, P. J. (2011). Exercise autonomous motivation predicts 3-yr weight loss in women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(4), 728-737.

Styne, D. M., Arslanian, S. A., Connor, E. L., Farooqi, I. S., Murad, M. H., Silverstein, J. H., & Yanovski, J. A. (2017). Pediatric obesity—assessment, treatment, and prevention: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 102(3), 709-757.

Teixeira, P. J., Carraça, E. V., Markland, D., Silva, M. N., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: a systematic review. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1), 1-30.

Teixeira, P. J., Going, S. B., Houtkooper, L. B., Cussler, E. C., Metcalfe, L. L., Blew, R. M., ... & Lohman, T. G. (2006). Exercise motivation, eating, and body image variables as predictors of weight control. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 38(1), 179-188.

Vlachopoulos, S. P., Kaperoni, M., & Moustaka, F. C. (2011). The relationship of self-determination theory variables to exercise identity. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12(3), 265-272.

Wengreen, H. J., & Moncur, C. (2009). Change in diet, physical activity, and body weight among young-adults during the transition from high school to college. Nutrition Journal, 8(1), 1-7.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2013-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

International Journal of Kinesiology and Sports Science

You may require to add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.