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As we emerge from Covid-19 pandemic, many people struggle to return to normal, leading us to ask what changes have occurred as a result of the virus and social distancing. We have observed 471 million people suffer with Covid-19, lost 6.08 million lives to the virus, and learned how the virus works as well as how to fight it, yet very little is known about the impact of the virus and its countermeasures on our health habits. PURPOSE: To examine the effect of gender on changes in health behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Eight hundred and sixty-six subjects (70.8% female; age= 45±3.4) were surveyed with 129 questions regarding their health behaviors either 1) prior to the pandemic, 2) after the pandemic (current), 3) or the changes in these behaviors they have perceived. The questionnaire utilized a dual set of questions regarding behaviors prior to the pandemic and currently which examined dietary structure, physical activity (using questions from the global physical activity questionnaire (GPAQ), and mental health. For the remaining questions regarding perceived changes, scales were used to indicate the degree of change and whether the behaviors improved or not. The data was analyzed using SPSS 20.0. When analyzing data, first calculated a change score for the pre-pandemic and post-pandemic reported behaviors. These change scores were then used to run independent sample t-tests to identify the differences in changes between males and females, described by means with the accompanying standard deviations. RESULTS: Analysis of the data found that overall, individuals struggled with increased stress, consuming the proper amounts of healthy foods observed (i.e. fruits and vegetables), and with maintaining physical activity levels. When male and female responses were compared, several significant trends emerged. Firstly, females reported a higher increase in anxiety and depression. Secondly, there was little difference found between the changes in nutritional habits and physical activity of men and women. Finally, while observing the data, another trend demonstrated that individuals with children and college students also reported significant increases in stress and a difficulty to maintain nutritional and exercise habits. CONCLUSION: From these findings, it can be concluded that the Covid-19 Pandemic has caused a deficit in health behaviors across the board. It can also be concluded that as a society, we must do more to meet the needs of females, parents, and college students, especially during such a crisis, to help facilitate the maintenance of these behaviors and ensure overall quality of life is an equal opportunity. Further research should explore the identified trends found in parents, college students, and females, as well as underrepresented populations to determine how their needs are not being met, or why they were more likely to suffer as a result of the pandemic.

Publication Date

Spring 2022


Advised by Dr. Jacquelyn Zera, Department of Exercise Science and Sports Stidies

Changes in Health Behaviors By Gender During a Global  Pandemic