Still engaged and efficacious: First-year kinesiology students' perceptions and behaviour prior to and during covid


Health professions represent the fastest growing employment field with health and medical majors at university growing over 160% in a 13-year span. Kinesiology students, with their training and experience in physical-activity and exercise, have been seen as well-positioned to be leaders in this movement. While physical-activity promotion remains a key element of health and wellness, the covid-19 pandemic and the measures to slow its spread have been shown to impact physical-activity engagement, has shaken confidence among health care workers and has disrupted learning for university students. The purpose of this multi-year, cross-sectional analysis was to determine whether physical-activity related perceptions and behaviours of male and female Kinesiology students differed for those entering their degree in the years preceding the covid pandemic compared to those who entered the field since it's onset. Six cohorts of first year students (N=764, 62.5% Female) completed measures of self-efficacy for engaging in physical activity (0-100%), MVPA (sessions per week), and body satisfaction (1-5scale). Three separate gender x time (pre/during covid) ANOVA procedures revealed consistent effects of gender (ps <.001) with female students reporting lower confidence to manage physical activity, lower body satisfaction and lower MVPA. Interestingly, despite no significant interactions, examination of the data points to more volatile perceptions among male students over time. These results suggest that while female students hold less positive perceptions, overall, Kinesiology students remain confident about, and engaged in physical activity despite the wide-reaching impacts of the covid-19 pandemic.