International Journal of Exercise Science 10(5): 754-763, 2017. Stress levels in university students peak during the final exam period. An inverse association exists between Physical Activity (PA) and poor mental health. UNLV has created Fitness4Finals (F4F), an event novel in its approach to academic stress reduction by incorporating both physical activity and mental relaxation. To our knowledge, a university-driven programming event aimed at reducing physiological and psychological stress among students approaching final exams had never been studied. Therefore, the aims of this research were to 1) examine the influence of F4F on physiological stress and perceived psychological stress (PPS) and 2) to examine the relationship between physiological stress and PPS. Fifteen full-time university students were recruited to participate in their choice of one of two groups: F4F or control (NonF4F). Pre-F4F and post-F4F measures of physiological stress, measured by salivary cortisol, and perceived psychological stress, measured by survey were collected. The F4F event was held the week prior to final examinations. Participants in the F4F group engaged in one F4F activity per day for the duration of the 3-day event. Results of the repeated measures MANOVA indicated nonsignificant interaction (p = .864) between F4F participation, physiological stress and PPS. PPS and cortisol were not correlated at the onset of the study (r = -0.18, p = 0.48) or at the last sampling period (r = 0.097, p = 0.73). Preemptive elevated levels of PA in the F4F group may have influenced results. Qualitative data indicates a unanimous perceived reduction in stress from F4F participation. While the physiological measures of stress in the present study were not significantly different, the perceived stress reduction reported by F4F participants is influential. Further investigation with improvements in timing and measurement tools is warranted.
Koschel, Tessa L.; Young, John C.; and Navalta, James W.
"Examining the Impact of a University-driven Exercise Programming Event on End-of-semester Stress in Students,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 10
5, Pages 754 - 763.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol10/iss5/11