The Impact of COVID-19 on High School Student-Athlete Experiences with Physical Activity, Mental Health, and Social Connection Shepherd, Heather A.; Evans, Taffin; Gupta, Srijal; McDonough, Meghan H.; Doyle-Baker, Patricia; Belton, Kathy L.; Karmali, Shazya; Pawer, Samantha; Hadly, Gabrielle; Pike, Ian; Adams, Stephanie A.; Babul, Shelina; Yeates, Keith Owen; Kopala-Sibley, Daniel C.; Schneider, Kathryn J.; Cowle, Stephanie; Fuselli, Pamela; Emery, Carolyn A.; Black, Amanda M.
COVID-19 restrictions led to reduced levels of physical activity, increased screen usage, and declines in mental health in youth; however, in-depth understandings of the experiences of high school student-athletes have yet to be explored. To describe the experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic on student-athletes’ physical activity, social connection, and mental health, 20 high school student-athletes living in Calgary, Alberta participated in semi-structured interviews, designed using phenomenography. Participants reported variations in physical activity, social connections, and mental health which were influenced by stay-at-home restrictions and weather. Access to resources, changes to routines, online classes, and social support all influenced engagement in physical activity. School and sports provided opportunities for in-person social connections, impacted by the onset of the pandemic. Participants reported their mental health was influenced by social connections, online classes, and physical activity. Findings from this study will inform the development of resources for high school student-athletes amidst COVID-19.
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