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Physical activity, physical well-being, and psychological well-being: Associations with life satisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic among early childhood educators


Seeking personal well-being and life satisfaction during a global pandemic can be daunting, such is the case for early care and education teachers who were considered non-health care essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential changes in their physical activity, along with their overall physical and psychological well-being, may have ultimately influenced their life satisfaction. These changes included the potential for increased sedentary behaviors. Despite the high health risks associated with these factors during the pandemic, the role of physical activity in early care and education teachers’ well-being and life satisfaction remains largely unknown. The purpose of this study is to examine the associations of physical activity and sedentary behaviors with teacher well-being and life satisfaction during the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, we explored two competing models of the relationship between the teachers’ physical activity, well-being, and life satisfaction, one with physical activity as a mediator and the other with teachers’ well-being as a mediator. An online survey, that collected information on physical, psychological, and professional well-being, job demands, and life satisfaction, was completed by 1434 US ECE teachers in 46 states. To test our hypothesized models, we conducted confirmatory factor analyses, followed by structural equation modeling. Of the respondents, 77% were overweight or obese and only 39% met the recommended 150 min of moderate physical activity per week. They had a mean life satisfaction score that qualifies as slight satisfaction, they experience moderate stress, and, collectively, are approaching the threshold for depression yet still reflect moderate-to-high work commitment. The empirical test of our competing mediation models found the model where teacher well-being mediated the association between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and life satisfaction was the superior model. The relationships between physical activity, sedentary behavior, and overall well-being suggest that these modifiable risk factors can be addressed such that early care and education teachers can improve their overall physical and psychological well-being, along with their life satisfaction. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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