Associations between physical activity and fatigue in students during the 2020-21 academic year

Gillham, Amy Louise (2023). Associations between physical activity and fatigue in students during the 2020-21 academic year. University of Birmingham. M.Res.

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Overview. Fatigue is a commonly reported health complaint and a key marker of wellbeing amongst university students. Physical Activity (PA) has been shown to be related to lower levels of fatigue, but less is known about the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on students’ PA behaviour and the associations between fluctuations in PA behaviour and levels of fatigue over time.
Objectives. This study aimed to 1) explore longitudinal changes in different modalities of fatigue, 2) explore longitudinal changes in different intensities of PA, and 3) explore the between- and within person associations between fluctuations in PA behaviours and fluctuations in fatigue and vitality over time. It was hypothesised that levels of PA and vitality would decrease whilst fatigue would increase during the study.
Method. 134 participants (M= 19.13 years, SD =1.10, 35% males) completed questionnaires assessing levels of PA (overall PA, vigorous PA, moderate PA, walking PA), fatigue (general fatigue, physical fatigue, mental fatigue, reduced motivation, reduced activity) and vitality. Data was collected at 3 timepoints at the start of (October 2020) and midway through an academic term (November 2020), and during an exam period (January 2021).
Results. Levels of fatigue increased, and levels of total PA and vigorous PA and vitality decreased from timepoint 1. Between- and within-person differences in total PA were the most consistent predictors of lower fatigue and higher vitality. The between- and within- person analyses revealed negative associations between vigorous PA and all fatigue outcomes except for mental fatigue and a positive association with vitality. Moderate PA was positively associated with vitality and negatively associated with all fatigue subscales at the within-person level but not the between-person level. Between- person walking PA was only negatively associated with fatigue subscale reduced activity.
Conclusions. Overall, within-person differences revealed more significant negative associations with fatigue and positive associations with vitality. These findings suggest that fluctuations in more intense forms of PA were more consistently associated with fluctuations in levels of fatigue amongst a highly active sample of students.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Res.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Res.
Veldhuijzen Van Zanten, JoachiminaUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences
Funders: None/not applicable


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