UBC Undergraduate Research

Improving the Online Physical Activity Experience : An Evaluation on the UBC Get Active at Home Webpage Mark, Evan; Lipovski, Ben; Megan, Vladimir; Yin, Christina


Literature Review: The COVID-19 lockdown has produced a significant rise in rates of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicide (Ammar et al., 2020). Despite the fact that individuals tend to value the positive effects of exercise, low energy and a lack of motivation, as commonly reported, remains a barrier in the participation of daily physical activity. In a study conducted by Ammar et al. (2020), the COVID-19 lockdown has negatively impacted global physical activity participation and sedentary behaviour trends. Additionally, the closure of many public recreation facilities and cessation of social gatherings has promoted individuals to seek elsewhere for physical activity-related resources. Given its already far-reaching nature and ease of use in 2021, the internet has become a key resource for such matters. Although easily accessible, the risks of information overload are commonly cited as its drawback, which may lead to the impairment of cognition (Cavallo et al. 2020; Marcus et al., 2008). Methods: This study utilized a cross-sectional design. A self-assessment survey was designed and conducted using the Qualtrics web survey platform to reach students at UBC with first-year standing. The survey was developed around three themes: levels of engagement of physical activity before and during COVID-19 lockdown, engagement patterns in online physical activity, and perceptions of the UBC Get Active at Home page. A link to the survey was distributed through several first year UBC Facebook, UBC Buy/Sell page, and word-of-mouth. Results: Data from 22 participants collected and analyzed. 50.0% of participants reported a decrease in physical activity over COIVD-19 lockdown. With regard to the perceived benefits of physical activity, 95.0% of participants selected improved mental health. Conversely, 59.1% of participants highlighted lack of motivation as a barrier to their participation. For engagement in online physical activity, 77.3% of participants reported that they had accessed online physical activity resources at least once. However, 27.3% of participants reported having heard of the UBC Get Active at Home page. 45.5% of participants reported information overload a barrier to participating in online physical activity. Lastly, 72.3% of participants reported video to be their most favoured medium for learning and participating in physical activity online. Discussion: This study provides important insights to the participation patterns in physical activity, within the unique context of the COVID-19 lockdown. Through the identification of perceived online and offline physical activity barriers from first year UBC students, interventions can be developed to address these barriers to increase student engagement on the webpage and at home. Improving mental health is a large motivation behind people’s incentive to exercise and is an important issue globally. Additionally, some of the perceived barriers to being physically active at home during COVID-19 is the lack of space and equipment. As such, the design and planning of future materials for the UBC Get Active at Home page should key consideration of user’s environments when providing resources. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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