Relationship Between Physical Activity Level and Stress Perception: Exploring Factors During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Çerezci-Duygu S., Özdemir F., Karakaş G.

Journal of Research in Health Sciences, vol.23, no.3, 2023 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.34172/jrhs.2023.120
  • Journal Name: Journal of Research in Health Sciences
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus
  • Keywords: Barrier, COVID-19, Motivation, Pandemics, Perceived stress, Physical activity
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background: After the difficulty of the pandemic process, managing the long-term effects that may occur after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is among the biggest concerns in the present era. This study aimed to explore factors affecting the physical activity level and investigate the relationship between physical activity level and stress perception of university students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Study Design: A cross-sectional study. Methods: Study data were collected via online survey, and volunteer participants completed the survey through the survey link between October 21 and December 31, 2021. Physical activity level was evaluated by “The International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form” (IPAQ-SF), and stress level was evaluated by “Perceived Stress Scale” (PSS). The participants were asked questions about barriers and motivators for physical activity before and during the pandemic. Results: The study included 444 participants (81.3% female and 18.7% male) with an average age of 21 ± 2.95 years. The results showed a negative-significant linear relationship between perceived stress score and total physical activity, vigorous-intensity physical activity, and walking scores (r =-0.157, P < 0.01; r =-0.16, P < 0.01; r =-0.13, P < 0.05 respectively). During the pandemic, the perception of insufficient finance became less important as a barrier (P = 0.029), and healthcare professional (HCP) recommendation became more important as a motivator for physical activity than the pre-pandemic conditions (P = 0.035). Conclusion: The findings indicated that it is possible to reduce the level of perceived stress by increasing the level of physical activity. Current research will be a key for increasing and maintaining physical activity and reducing perceived stress.