Physical Activity Behaviors and Overweight Status among Iranian School-Aged Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Big Data Analysis

Sajad Bagherian*, Khodayar Ghasempoor, Julien S Baker, Mohammad Mashhadi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background

We aimed to investigate school-aged students' physical activity behaviors and overweight status during the COVID-19 quarantine. 

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, an online questionnaire was utilized to measure participants' physical activity behavior and overweight status during the COVID-19 quarantine in Iran (May of 2021). Participants self-reported their physical activity levels, types, amounts and locations, as well as whether or not they became overweight. The chi-square test was used to determine the differences in the distribution of the participant responses. The statistical significance level was set at P<0.05. 

Results

The questionnaire was completed by 43,660 school-aged students (15,532 boys and 28,128 girls). The age, weight, and height ranges were 8–17 yr, 18–144 kg, and 75–198 cm respectively. Half of the students reported changes in their body weight and became overweight during the COVID-19 pandemic (χ2=25514.4; P=0.001). Forty-one percent reported doing very little or no physical activity, 32% of students reported doing less than one hour of exercise per day (χ2=8547.7; P=0.001). The majority of students (72%) reported participating in physical activity at home (χ2=78851.2; P=0.001). Flexibility was the main kind of exercise performed, followed by walking or running, during the COVID-19 pandemic (χ2=24328.9; P=0.001). 

Conclusion

During the COVID-19 pandemic, half of the students became overweight, and the majority did not engage in regular physical activity. These findings can help guide efforts to protect and promote children's health during the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as influence policies to reduce the risk of future pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-685
Number of pages10
JournalIranian Journal of Public Health
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Epidemiology
  • Home-based exercise
  • Physical activity
  • School closer

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