How pre-pandemic campus sports boosted resilience during lockdown

A recent study from the University of Waterloo shows that pre-campus sports can reduce stress and improve academic performance, even during stressful situations like pandemic lockdowns. The study found that prior to the pandemic, participation in fitness, intramural and competitive sports led to lower stress levels and increased perceived competence in problem solving and schoolwork during lockdown.

Participating in recreational sports on campus can offset stress and boost academic performance even during periods of high stress such as pandemic lockdowns, a new study suggests.

Researchers of University of Waterloo found that participation in activities such as fitness classes, extracurricular activities, and sports activities included in classes Pandemic of the coronavirus infection covid-19 was associated with lower levels of stress and higher levels of perceived competence to cope with problems and cope with school workload during adjustment.

“Our findings suggest that the stress-reducing effects of campus recreational activities went beyond the obvious physical health benefits and contributed to overall well-being even at the bottom line.” — Stephen Mock

The study used factorial and regression analyzes based on responses from 116 students who participated in recreational sports on campus at two time points—January 2020, before the pandemic, and April 2020, after the COVID lockdown.

“Our findings suggest that the stress-reducing effects of recreational activities on campus went beyond the obvious benefits for physical health and contributed to overall well-being even at the bottom line,” said Stephen Mock, a research associate in the Division of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

“It is possible that students who learned to cope with challenges and losses in the context of sport and recreation developed key skills, such as adaptability, that helped them cope with the setbacks associated with the pandemic.”

At the beginning of winter 2020, stress levels among students were generally low. Managing academic demands, building new relationships, and trying to achieve personal goals were the three biggest stressors at the time.

“The students had just returned from the holidays, their academic load was still low and they did not expect any social disruptions such as[{” attribute=””>COVID-19,” said co-author Narges Abdeahad, a former PhD candidate in the department of Recreation and Leisure Studies.

By April 2020, after lockdowns had begun, the overall level of stress had increased to above the midpoint, and the top stressors had changed to online delivery of quizzes and exams, the influence of the pandemic on their lives, and managing academic demands.

“We also found that graduate students and, even more so, international students had very low participation in campus recreational sports pre-pandemic, which has wellness implications for these two groups of students,” said Abdeahad.

“Since campus recreational sports appear to help develop lifelong skills that offset stressful events, educational institutions should consider including campus recreational sports as a strategy to enhance student mental health and well-being.”

Reference: “The role of past campus recreational sports participation in predicting students’ stress and competence during the COVID-19 pandemic” by Narges Abdeahad and Steven Mock, 6 February 2023, Journal of Leisure Research.
DOI: 10.1080/00222216.2023.2165203 How pre-pandemic campus sports boosted resilience during lockdown

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