Examining Whether Physical Activity Location Choices Were Associated With Weekly Physical Activity Maintenance Across 13 Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Emerging Adults

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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  • 1 Spatial Sciences Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • | 2 Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • | 3 Khoury College of Computer Sciences and Bouvé College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA
  • | 4 Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA
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Background: Recent studies have shown potentially detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity (PA) in emerging adults (ages 18–29 y). However, studies that examined the effects of COVID-19 on PA location choices and maintenance for this age group remain limited. The current study investigated changes in PA location choices across 13 months during the pandemic and their associations with PA maintenance in this population. Methods: Emerging adults (N = 197) living in the United States completed weekly survey on personal smartphones (May 2020–June 2021) regarding PA location choices and maintenance. Mixed-effects models examined the main effects of PA location choice and its interaction with weeks into the pandemic on participants’ PA maintenance. Results: On a given week, participants performing PA on roads/sidewalks or at parks/open spaces were 1½ and 2 times as likely to maintain PA levels, respectively. Moreover, after September 2021, weeks when individuals performed PA on roads/sidewalks had a protective effect on PA maintenance. Conclusions: Performing PA on roads/sidewalks and at parks/open spaces was associated with PA maintenance during the COVID-19 pandemic. PA promotion and intervention efforts for emerging adults during large-scale disruptions to daily life should focus on providing programmed activities in open spaces to maintain their PA levels.

Yi (liyi.1@usc.edu) is corresponding author.

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