Changes in Physical Activity Among University Students in Indonesia from Before to During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Retrospective Cohort Study

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Dicky Moch Rizal
Rakhmat Ari Wibowo


University life is an important phase for forming healthy physical activity habits among university students. However, little is known about the change in physical activity level during the COVID-19 pandemic among university students in Indonesia, which has a low stringency index. A retrospective cohort study was conducted among students of Universitas Gadjah Mada (n=153) from October to November 2020, where there were asked to recall their physical activity level and type of physical activity engaged in at four points of time: before the pandemic, early pandemic, Ramadan period, and relaxation period. Then, we conducted three-way mixed analyses of variance followed by Bonferroni’s post hoc comparisons tests to compare the mean difference of total moderate-vigorous physical activity with a subject over time and between subgroups in a similar time. Containment measures during the pandemic resulted in a 69.4-minute drop (95% confidence interval: 40.1 to 98.7 minutes, p<.001) of total moderate-vigorous physical activity. While the relaxation of containment measures could restore non-health natural science students’ physical activity to the pre-pandemic amount, it did not influence health science students’ physical activity. Our findings provide evidence that pandemic situations in a low stringency index country also affected physical activity behavior among university students. More efforts are needed to increase university students’ physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among health science students.


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Author Biography

Rakhmat Ari Wibowo, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Public Health and Nursing, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

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