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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health






Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our nation’s health further than the infection it causes. Physical activity levels and dietary intake have suffered while individuals grapple with the changes in behavior to reduce viral transmission. With unique nuances regarding the access to physical activity and nutrition during the pandemic, the constructs of Health Belief Model (HBM) may present themselves differently in nutrition and exercise behaviors compared to precautions implemented to reduce viral transmission studied in previous research. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent of exercise and nutritional behavior change during the COVID-19 pandemic and explain the reason for and extent of this change using HBM constructs (perceived susceptibility, severity, benefit of action, and barriers to action). Methods: This study used a cross-sectional design to collect 206 surveys. This survey collected information on self-reported exercise and nutrition changes during the pandemic and self-reported levels of the HBM constructs. Results: Findings showed individuals with medium or high exercise behavior change had greater odds of increased HBM score than individuals with little to no exercise behavior change (OR = 1.117, 95% CI: 1.020–1.223, SE: 0.0464, p = 0.0175). There was no association between nutritional behavior change and HBM score (OR = 1.011, 95% CI: 0.895–1.142, p = 08646). Conclusion: Individuals who reported a more drastic change in either exercise had greater odds of increased feelings of perceived susceptibility and severity related to COVID-19 and decreased perceived benefits and increased barriers to exercise. This relationship was not found regarding nutrition behavior change. These results encourage public health practitioners to understand how an individual’s perceived feelings about a threat may affect exercise and nutritional behaviors.


Copyright: © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).