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

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