Measuring how stress impacts physical activity behaviors in undergraduates

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Born, Katelyn Ann

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PURPOSE: To examine the effect of self-reported life stress on objective measures of physical activity. METHODS: Participants were a convenience sample of 98 undergraduates. Participants wore an ActiGraph GT1M Accelerometer for 6 consecutive days. Thirty participants were eliminated due to insufficient wear time (at least 8 hours/day). On each day of the week, they completed the Perceived Stress Scale. This was used to identify their highest and lowest stress day of the week excluding weekends. In addition, participants were divided according to their reports of consistent, exercise behavior. ANALYSIS: A 2 (gender) X 2 (day) RM-ANOVA was conducted to examine differences in time spent in MVPA. RESULTS: There was a significant interaction for gender, in that females increased their time spent in MVPA on their high stress day compared to their low stress day while males MVPA did not change, F (1, 66) = 7.55, p = .008. DISCUSSION: These results support findings by Lutz et al (2010), and extend it by using a sample with males and an objective measure of MVPA. Future studies should investigate the impact of exercise behavior on the relationship between stress and exercise.



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