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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Pain and loneliness as obstacles to physical activity : time sampling during the COVID-19 pandemic Broen, Tiana


The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened physical and mental health across the lifespan and highlighted the importance of safe everyday behaviours that individuals may engage in to maintain health and wellbeing. One health-promoting behaviour that has been encouraged by health officials during the pandemic is physical activity; however, research indicates that physical activity behaviours have decreased significantly during this time. The current study aimed to extend research on between-person differences in physical activity behaviours and barriers to physical activity by examining self-reported pain and loneliness on active vs. less-active days. To capture life as it is lived, time-varying associations of loneliness, subjective pain, and physical activity indicators were examined as participants went about their daily lives. It was hypothesized that individuals who reported more loneliness or subjective pain on a particular day would take fewer steps and engage in less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that same day. Data were collected from April 2020 to August 2020. The sample included 139 community-dwelling Canadian adults (Mage = 40.65 years, SD = 18.37 , range = 18-83 years). Each evening for up to 10 consecutive days, participants reported their loneliness, subjective pain, number of steps, and minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. In line with the above hypotheses, loneliness and physical activity were significantly linked on a day-to-day basis, such that individuals who felt lonelier on a particular day engaged in less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that same day. However, we did not find any significant relationships between pain and physical activity. From an intervention perspective, our findings may suggest that it is promising to tackle loneliness on a day-to-day basis to increase physical activity one day at a time. This may be especially relevant during times of mandated social-distancing, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but also at other times when individuals experience greater feelings of loneliness.

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