The Impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Physical Activity Behaviors of Low Income, Ethnic Minority Adolescents
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Background: Little is known about how natural disasters impact youth health behaviors. This study aimed to examine adolescent physical activity throughout Hurricane Harvey. Methods: Adolescents (n=177) were recruited from an independent school district in Houston, Texas. Participants self-reported demographic information, light and moderate-vigorous physical activity (LPA; MVPA), and number of sedentary hours using the School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) questionnaire. Students completed the SPAN questionnaire two days prior to the hurricane, and three, eight, and fifteen weeks post-hurricane. Adjusted for demographic variables, four separate repeated measures ANCOVA models examined the changes in physical activity variables over time. Results: Participants were primarily Hispanic (78%) and were 14.61 ± 1.75 years old. Repeated measures ANOVA indicated LPA was lower during the hurricane than at all other time points (F (3,177) =11.98, p<0.001). After adjusting for gender, time spent playing video games was significantly higher during the hurricane than prior to the hurricane and at the end of the quarter (F (3, 176) =3.38, p<0.05). No differences in MVPA were found. Conclusions: Although physical activity patterns were disrupted during the hurricane, students were able to resume their normal activities within the span of a semester.