Moving through a global health crisis : exploring how middle-aged women used outdoor exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Deborah Jené Baclawski (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Michael Hemphill

Abstract: Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are only beginning to understand the virus' short and long-term effects. Over one million people in the United States have lost their lives to COVID-19, and many others continue to suffer long-term health consequences related to its impact on both physical and mental health (John Hopkins, 2022). The pandemic has devastated marginalized groups, many of whom continue to feel the most severe and resounding impacts of the pandemic (National Women’s Law Center, 2022; Yancy, 2020). Historically marginalized groups are bearing the brunt of the pandemic's economic and social fallout (National Women’s Law Center, 2022). The objective of this research was to learn more about how middle-aged women between the ages of 40-65 found outdoor forms of exercise such as running, walking, or jogging useful during the pandemic for improving their physical and mental health. As our communities move back and forth between restrictions and the virus is slowed by an increasing vaccine booster rollout, the collateral damage to our mental health will need to be discussed and researched for decades to come. The three major themes that emerged from interviews indicate that these women used outdoor forms of exercise to feel better, cope and encourage positivity in the face of unknown challenges. Findings from this study suggest that these participants did find outdoor exercise practices useful, but each had their reasons, experiences, and feelings about why it helped them manage their health. This study highlights the voices of middle-aged women and suggests that more support is needed for communities to prepare for prospective infection waves or pandemics.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Adult Women, COVID-19, Exercise, Mental Health, Outdoor, Stress
Middle-aged women $x Health and hygiene
Exercise for middle-aged women
COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020-

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