Sahray Equivel-Mesta1, Regan Walker1, & Melissa D. Powers1 1University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, Oklahoma

Physical activity has been shown to reduce stress; however, very few studies have examined the effect of muscular strengthening activities (MSA) specifically. PURPOSE: This project aimed to examine the association between engagement in MSA and perceived stress levels among college students. METHODS: Participants were 157 students (38 males, 111 females, 8 non-binary/preferred not say) who completed an online survey of physical activity and stress. Participants self-reported days of participation in MSA and average minutes per day of MSA which was used to calculate volume of participation per week (minutes per week). Perceived stress was assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), a 10-item validated tool with scores ranging from 0 to 40 (higher scores indicating higher stress). Pearson correlation coefficients were computed to assess the correlation between PSS and participation in MSA. Subsequently, participants were grouped based days per week of MSA into those who met the Physical Activity Guidelines (PAG; 2 or more days per week) and those who did not meet the PAG (less than 2 days per week). An independent samples t-test was performed to evaluate potential differences in perceived stress between the two groups. RESULTS: A non-significant negative correlation was observed between days of MSA per week and PSS (r = -.155, p = .052). A non-significant negative correlation was also observed between the volume of MSA per week (assessed in minutes per week) and PSS (r = -.120, p = -.142). Among college students, 36.3% (n = 57) reported 2 or more days of MSA to meet the PAG. Although perceived stress was lower among those who meet the PAG (19.70±8.70) when compared to those who did not meet the PAG (21.20±7.15), this difference was not significant (t = -1.166, p = .246). CONCLUSION: The findings contribute to our understanding of the relationship between perceived stress and MSA demonstrating that those who meet the guidelines for MSA do not have lower stress levels than those who do not meet the guidelines. This result offers insights that may inform interventions promoting stress reduction through physical activity.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Supported by the University of Central Oklahoma Office of High Impact Practices.

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