The decision to close playgrounds during the early days of the COVID pandemic had an adverse affect on the mental health of women. (Black Press file photo)

The decision to close playgrounds during the early days of the COVID pandemic had an adverse affect on the mental health of women. (Black Press file photo)

UFV study finds women with reduced physical activity had more mental health struggles during COVID pandemic

The study suggested women suffered more than men as gyms, parks and playgrounds shut down

A study conducted by University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) kinesiologists found that women suffered more than men when physical activity was limited by COVID.

The study looked at restrictions that were put in place during the early days of the pandemic, including the closure of gyms, fitness studios, parks and playgrounds.

One thousand and 98 people participated in the study, 215 men and 871 women.

According to Dr. Iris Lesser, an assistant professor of kinesiology at UFV, the women experienced more mental health struggles as the days and weeks went by.

The study found that women who were less physically active because of the pandemic had lower mental health scores and higher anxiety. Women maintaining a higher level of physical activity saw that reflected in better mental health scores and lower anxiety.

RELATED: UFV researcher to study COVID preventative measures

“Women are statistically shown to be more anxious and less physically active than men, and COVID-19 restrictions made it even more challenging for them to keep up with physical activity, further impacting their mental health,” said Dr. Iris Lesser, assistant professor of kinesiology, in a UFV Today blog post.

Lesser and UFV colleague Dr. Carl Nienhuis conducted the study, which was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Many women already struggled before COVID to find a balance between their work and home lives. The pandemic added more barriers, including the need to provide 24 hour care for children who would normally spend a chunk of their day at school or daycare.

RELATED: Expanded COVID testing and collection center opening at UFV

Lesser said it was disappointing when playgrounds were closed for a time, even if the intention was good. It cut off one avenue for women to get outside and stay active.

“We recognize that the threat posed by the pandemic is real and that the barriers were intended for our benefit,” she noted. “But we also need to consider the impact on physical activity and mental health.”

After looking at the data, the UFV research team suggested more effort should be made to “encourage and promote physical activity options that allow parents to be active with their children.”

“Given the challenges that women uniquely face due to pandemic restrictions, we need to find ways to provide environments and support for physical activity to reduce the mental duress that some women are experiencing,” Lesser said. “We need to aim for physical activity options that can include and engage children.”

————————————————————-

The UFV School of Kinesiology is currently involved in more research through Moms on the Move, an outdoor group fitness program meant to help women who are experiencing anxiety after childbirth.

Anyone who wants to participate is asked to email Dr. Gillian Hatfield at gillian.hatfield@ufv.ca.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusmental health

Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family homeless after fire rips through house on Abbotsford border

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

Wild rabbits are all over Chilliwack, but people often think they’re someone’s lost pet and try to ‘save’ them. But the owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room says good intentions can have bad consequences for wild animals. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Owner of Chilliwack’s Reptile Room asks people to leave wild animals in the wild

Amber Quiring says people who think they’re helping are actually doing more harm than good

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read