Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity among university students in Pavia, Northern Italy.

Main Article Content

Lucia Bertocchi
Riccardo Vecchio
Sebastiano Sorbello
Luca Correale
Leandro Gentile
Cosme Buzzachera
Maddalena Gaeta
Anna Odone


COVID-19, Sedentary Behavior, Exercise


Aim: To evaluate the University of Pavia students about physical activity (PA) changes before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: The International Physical Activity Questionnaires (IPAQ) survey was employed to evaluate the PA in three periods: the pre-pandemic period, during national stay-at-home order (March 9th - May 4th 2020), current PA. Exercise intensity for each period was defined using the Metabolic Equivalent of Task (Met) as unit of measurement. The questionnaire was administered online to university students from June 9th to July 4th 2021, structured in four sections, also collecting demographic data.

Results: 55,6% of the study population reported a significant decrease in PA during lockdown. The number of active/very active subjects dropped from 72.2% in pre-pandemic period to 29.6% during containment measures. 50% reported a substantial increase in moving out of the lockdown. Stay-at-home order was associated with an increase in sedentary lifestyle (68.5%), which sharply decreased moving out from lockdown (two-third of study population). Average time in minutes spent sitting was 612 before pandemic, 844 during the pandemic and 670 after social restrictions.

Conclusions: Lockdown had a negative impact on PA among the university students leading to an increase in sedentary behaviours. Following the gradual relaxation of the restrictive measures, situation has improved, without however returning to pre-pandemic level. It is of fundamental importance to study new strategies to promote healthy lifestyles while coping with the on-going pandemic.


Download data is not yet available.
Abstract 257 | PDF Downloads 134


(1) WHO. (2020). WHO Guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour: at a glance. World Health Organization
(2) Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Sorveglianza PASSI
(3) Ekelund et al., Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women
(4) Ding, D., Gebel, K., Phongsavan, P., Bauman, A. E., & Merom, D. (2014). Driving: A road to unhealthy lifestyles and poor health outcomes. PLoS ONE, 9(6).
(5) WHO. (2018). Global Action Plan On Physical Activity 2018-2030: More Active People for Healthier World. In Journal of Policy Modeling (Vol. 28, Issue 6)
(6) P., Fanucchi, T., Ghislandi, S., Gorini, G., Iacoviello, L., Pacifici, R., Santucci, C., Serafini, G., Signorelli, C., Stival, C., Stuckler, D., Tersalvi, C. A., & Gallus, S. (2020). Covid-19 lockdown impact on lifestyle habits of Italian adults. Acta Biomedica, 91.
(7) Amerio A, Lugo A, Stival C, Fanucchi T, Gorini G, Pacifici R, Odone A, Serafini G, Gallus S. COVID-19 lockdown impact on mental health in a large representative sample of Italian adults. Journal of affective disorders 2021; 292: 398-404
(8) Lugo A, Stival C, Paroni L, Amerio A, Carreras G, Gorini G, Mastrobattista L, Minutillo A, Mortali C, Odone A, Pacifici R, Tinghino B, Gallus S. The impact of COVID-19 lockdown on gambling habit: A cross-sectional study from Italy. Journal of behavioral addictions 2021
(9) Carreras, G., Lugo, A., Stival, C., Amerio, A., Odone, A., Pacifici, R., Gallus, S., & Gorini, G. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on smoking consumption in a large representative sample of Italian adults. Tobacco Control.
(10) Cleland, C., Ferguson, S., Ellis, G., & Hunter, R. F. (2018). Validity of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) for assessing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and sedentary behaviour of older adults in the United Kingdom. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18(1).
(11) Ammar, A., Brach, M., Trabelsi, K., Chtourou, H., Boukhris, O., Masmoudi, L., Bouaziz, B., Bentlage, E., How, D., Ahmed, M., Müller, P., Müller, N., Aloui, A., Hammouda, O., Paineiras-Domingos, L. L., Braakman-Jansen, A., Wrede, C., Bastoni, S., Pernambuco, C. S., … Hoekelmann, A. (2020). Effects of COVID-19 home confinement on eating behaviour and physical activity: Results of the ECLB-COVID19 international online survey. Nutrients, 12(6).
(12) Gallè, F., Sabella, E. A., Da Molin, G., De Giglio, O., Caggiano, G., Di Onofrio, V., Ferracuti, S., Montagna, M. T., Liguori, G., Orsi, G. B., & Napoli, C. (2020). Understanding knowledge and behaviors related to covid−19 epidemic in italian undergraduate students: The epico study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(10).
(13) R., Bauman, A. E., Blair, S. N., Brownson, R. C., Craig, C. L., Goenka, S., Heath, G. W., Inoue, S., Kahlmeier, S., Katzmarzyk, P. T., Kohl, H. W., Lambert, E. V., Lee, I. M., … Wells, J. C. (2012). Global physical activity levels: Surveillance progress, pitfalls, and prospects. In The Lancet (Vol. 380, Issue 9838).
(14) Castañeda-Babarro, A., Coca, A., Arbillaga-Etxarri, A., & Gutiérrez-Santamaría, B. (2020). Physical activity change during COVID-19 confinement. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(18).
(15) Signorelli, C., Scognamiglio, T., & Odone, A. (2020). COVID-19 in Italy: Impact of containment measures and prevalence estimates of infection in the general population. Acta Biomedica, 91.
(16) Gianfredi, V., Blandi, L., Cacitti, S., Minelli, M., Signorelli, C., Amerio, A., & Odone, A. (2020). Depression and objectively measured physical activity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. In International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Vol. 17, Issue 10).

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 4 5 > >>