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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 34  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 84-85

Dental students, stress, and physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic

1 Titular Professor, Biomedical Stomatology Research Group, Universidad de Antioquia U de A, Basic Studies Department , Faculty of Dentistry, Universidad de Antioquia U de A, Medellín, Colombia
2 Basic Studies Department, Faculty of Dentistry, Universidad de Antioquia U de A, Medellín, Colombia

Date of Submission05-Jan-2020
Date of Decision03-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance29-Mar-2021
Date of Web Publication21-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Carlos Martin Ardila
Calle 70 No. 52.21, Medellin
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/efh.EfH_17_20

How to cite this article:
Ardila CM, Gomez-Restrepo AM. Dental students, stress, and physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Educ Health 2021;34:84-5

How to cite this URL:
Ardila CM, Gomez-Restrepo AM. Dental students, stress, and physical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Educ Health [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 23];34:84-5. Available from:

Dear Editor,

Higher education institutions have a relevant effect on learning and curriculum maturation in general education, including the generation of innovative knowledge and social novelty. Teaching and learning is a complex process in dental schools, especially regarding components such as the affinity between undergraduates, patients, and educators, the curriculum, the articulation of theoretic and practical concepts, the institutional context, the educational environment, and the culture.[1] In this context, the particularities of dental education prioritize relevant curriculum constituents, including patient oral healthcare, methods of teaching and learning around patients that guarantee that undergraduates are safe to attend them, and educational evaluation that permits educators and students to prove clinical proficiency. In addition, dental students need to emphasize promoting health, supervising interventions and completing efficient schemes of care at community and population stages, and understanding population demography and health tendencies, as per the background of the healthcare structure of their country.[1]

There is agreement that dental education is recognized as demanding, psychologically stressful, and emotionally fatiguing for undergraduates. Furthermore, the elevation of stress in dental students can harm cognitive function and learning plus academic performance.[2] Therefore, the occurrence of stress prejudices efforts to be physically active, and only 25% of dental students mentioned physical activities as a stress handling routine. On the other hand, the literature has shown the benefits of physical activity habits in enhancing students' learning skills and educational achievement.[3] Considering that physical activity habits may enhance learning capacity in university students, it is essential to investigate this subject, having in mind that dental education can be a significant source of stress among dental students.[2],[3]

A recently published study reported that the COVID-19 outbreak showed an indirect negative influence on negative emotions, increasing stress, and affecting sleep quality in college students.[4] On the other hand, also recently, it was documented that the most preferred physical activity modality in dental students was a work out at the gym, followed by soccer.[5] Knowing that during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic measures, such as lock downs and physical distancing, both these physical activities are practically prohibited. A probable mitigation approach for improving mental health during the outbreak involves taking appropriate amounts of daily physical activity.[4]

With this panorama, and knowing that dental education is psychologically stressful and emotionally fatiguing, dental students' mental health will be affected and possibly their academic performance. Therefore, some home or indoor exercises must be recommended to dental students to improve their mental health. Dental school faculty must promote these recommendations among dental students and recommend physical strategies and outlines of relevant concerns to be applied through this ongoing outbreak. Future research will reveal the effect that the pandemic produced on dental students' mental health, physical activity, and academic achievement.


The Universidad de Antioquia is to be acknowledged.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Chuenjitwongsa S, Bullock A, Oliver RG. Culture and its influences on dental education. Eur J Dent Educ 2018;22:57-66.  Back to cited text no. 1
Basudan S, Binanzan N, Alhassan A. Depression, anxiety and stress in dental students. Int J Med Educ 2017;8:179-86.  Back to cited text no. 2
Al-Drees A, Abdulghani H, Irshad M, Baqays AA, Al-Zhrani AA, Alshammari SA, et al. Physical activity and academic achievement among the medical students: A cross-sectional study. Med Teach 2016;38 Suppl 1:S66-72.  Back to cited text no. 3
Zhang Y, Zhang H, Ma X, Di Q. Mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemics and the mitigation effects of exercise: A longitudinal study of college students in China. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2020;17:E3722.  Back to cited text no. 4
Ardila CM, Gómez-Restrepo ÁM. Frequency of physical inactivity and insufficient sleep, and their mixed effects on academic achievement in ethnic minority students: A matched case-control study in a dental school. J Educ Health Promot 2020;9:138.  Back to cited text no. 5


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