Student Spotlight

COVID – 19 and its Impact on the Lifestyle of medicine students during home confinement


COVID-19 pandemic led many countries to implement lockdown measures. Italy declared lockdown from 9th March and universities shifted to online classes. Home confinement had impact on students due to reduced physical activity and sleep levels recommended for their psychophysical health, and medicine students are already known to be at risk of inactivity and reduced sleep due to their extremely busy curricula.

Research project Aim:

The project aimed at understanding the behavior of medicine students during lockdown and comparing it with pre-lockdown data and current recommendations. The idea was to investigate how this period impacted the physical activity and sleep of the students, keeping in mind the crucial role on their individual health and the health of the patients.

Follow the Paper


A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted among 6th year Italian medicine students (n=714; age=25±2y; female:62%; male:38%) in October-November 2019. The same survey was repeated in 6th year students during lockdown (n=394; age=25±2y; female:73%; male:27%), and extended to 1st-5th year (total 1st-6th year sample during lockdown: n=1471; age=23±2y; female:70%; male:30%). International Physical Activity Questionnaire Short Form (IPAQ) and selected questions from Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index were administered to evaluate physical activity, sitting and sleep time. 


Medicine students are prone to sedentary behavior and low levels of physical activity; COVID-19 crisis and subsequent confinement measures may be worsening this trend. Our data suggest that improving physical activity would be beneficial for many medicine students, and the vast majority would benefit from spending less time sitting in their daily routine. Strategies fostering compliance to current guidelines for physical activity, sedentary behavior and sleep should be implemented; this may be especially valuable in case of repeated and intermittent lockdown and confinement measures.

Future Developments

It is clear that the need for physical activity for a healthy lifestyle of medical students needs to be acknowledged and the universities need to play a role in order to rethink in many ways how to educate and support the students. The short-term consequences of COVID-19 revealed throughout this survey are an eye-opener and a start for addressing the long-term consequences to be faced. The lessons learned so far must guide future developments of the sector.

Francesco Luciano - 6th year student of Medicine & Surgery, Università degli studi di Milano

Francesco Luciano