Changes in Physical Activity, Sleep, Mental Health, and Social Media Use During COVID-19 Lockdown Among Adolescent Girls: A Mixed-Methods Study

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: To suppress the transmission of coronavirus, many governments, including that of the island of Ireland, implemented a societal lockdown, which included school closures, limits on social gatherings, and time outdoors. This study aimed to evaluate changes in physical activity (PA), mental health, sleep, and social media use among adolescent girls during lockdown. Methods: 281 female pupils (12–14 y) taking part in the ongoing Walking In Schools study on the island of Ireland self-reported PA, mental health, sleep, and social media use before (September–October 2019) and during lockdown (May–June 2020), via questionnaires. These were supplemented with open-ended structured interviews conducted with 16 girls during lockdown. Results: During the period of lockdown and school closures, pupils tried new forms of PA and undertook PA with family, but there was no significant change in self-reported PA. There was a decline in health-related quality of life and motivation for exercise; however, self-efficacy for walking and happiness with appearance increased. There was no change in sleep quality or social media usage. Conclusions: Despite the many challenges that schools face as they reopen, there is a need to continue to prioritize PA and motivation for exercise to support health and well-being in adolescent girls.

O’Kane, Carlin, and Murphy are with the Centre for Exercise Medicine, Physical Activity and Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute, University of Ulster, Jordanstown Campus, Newtownabbey, United Kingdom. Lahart is with the Faculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing, University of Wolverhampton, Walsall Campus, Gorway Road, Walsall, United Kingdom. Gallagher is with the Nutrition Innovation Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, University of Ulster, Coleraine Campus, Coleraine, United Kingdom. Faulkner is with the Department of Law and Humanities, Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Port Road, Letterkenny, Ireland. Jago is with the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.

O’Kane (m.okane@ulster.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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