Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Exercise participation and subjective well-being of collegiate athletes during COVID-19 Pandemic

Susannah Leigh Reiner, Glenn Harrison Smith, Rick B. Davis



While the NCAA grapples with how to return to sport during the COVID-19 pandemic, knowledge of the current exercise habits and well-being of collegiate athletes can better inform strength and conditioning professionals how to adjust periodization plans for the coming year. As collegiate athletes attempt to train independently, there is an opportunity to survey the athletes who normally participate in organized strength and conditioning programs. This study aims to understand current independent exercise regimes and explore current well-being measures such as fatigue, sleep, mood, soreness, and stress. Coaches may be facing massive levels of detraining or potentially the rest and recovery desperately needed for a rejuvenated return to sport. In this study, 237 collegiate athletes (mean age = 19.75, SD = 1.18) completed an online survey measuring exercise participation and well-being. Exercise habits indicate a statistically (p < .05) and clinically significant increase in frequency (t(234) = 4.36, p = .000, ES = .32), intensity (t(235) = 5.31, p = .000, ES = .47), and duration (t(234) = 6.54, p = .000, ES = .47) of exercise sessions overtime during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine. Perceived psychological well-being also increased as time went on during quarantine with an improvement in fatigue (Z = 3.42, p = .001, ES = .22), sleep quality (Z = 4.59, p = .000, ES = .30), stress (Z = 6.53, p = .000, ES = .42), and mood (Z = 5.86, p = .000, ES = .38). It appears there was a potential adaptation to quarantine that improved athletes’ exercise participation and perceived well-being but concerns for periodization strategies, motivation, and possibility of detraining remain for strength and conditioning professionals in the transition to the return to sport.


Cessation of training; Detraining; Motivation; Periodization; Resilience


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