Corresponding Author

Christiaan G. Abildso, PhD, MPH


Author Affiliations

Christiaan G. Abildso, PhD, MPH

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, West Virginia University School of Public Health

Morgantown WV

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1972-2348

Twitter: @walkbikemgw

Author Area of Expertise

  1. Abildso: physical activity, public health program evaluation
  2. Dyer: public health program evaluation, home visitation
  3. Daily: public health program evaluation, school and community health
  4. Lilly: biostatistics
  5. Sarkees: public health program evaluation
  6. Moyers: nature-based interventions, public health
  7. Bias: political science, public health program evaluation


Introduction: Physical activity (PA) can prevent and reduce the deleterious physical and mental health effects of COVID-19 and associated lockdowns. Research conducted early in the pandemic demonstrates that a greater proportion of adults in the U.S. have decreased than increased PA, and the effects vary by sociodemographic factors. Ongoing evidence is important to identify patterns in PA changes during the pandemic.

Purpose: This study aims to identify factors associated with increases and decreases in PA during the COVID-19 pandemic in a convenience sample of adults residing in Appalachia.

Methods: Surveys were collected from a convenience sample of adults from eight counties in West Virginia from January to March 2021. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify sociodemographic, health, and rurality factors associated with (1) increased PA and (2) decreased PA during the pandemic, assessed retrospectively via self-report.

Results: Analysis of 1,401 survey responses revealed that better self-rated health, lower body mass index, and higher income and education were associated with a greater likelihood of more time spent doing PA during the pandemic (p ≤ .05). Respondents with lower self-rated health, higher body mass index, lower income, and lower levels of education—plus females and those living in a more urban county—were more likely to spend less time doing PA during the pandemic (p ≤ .05).

Implications: Analyses suggest that pre-pandemic disparities in PA by health, wealth, and education were exacerbated during the pandemic. These must be addressed before physical inactivity and ill health become endemic to the Appalachian Region.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



Recommended Citation

Abildso CG, Dyer AM, Daily SM, Lilly C, Sarkees EA, Moyers SI, Bias TK. factors associated with physical activity increases and decreases among a sample of Appalachian residents during the COVID-19 pandemic: a cross-sectional study. J Appalach Health 2023;5(1):38–58. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0501.04.