THE INFLUENCE OF ANXIETY LEVELS ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF UNIVERSITY
Lee, N. Y. & Rauff, E. L.
Seattle University, Seattle, Washington
The transition to university exposes students to a multitude of stressors and increases their risk for poor mental health and a reduction in behaviors such as physical activity (PA). PURPOSE: This study examined the influence of anxiety level on differences in stress, depression, PA, and social support for PA in first-year university students. METHODS: First-year university students (N= 475; 22% male; 77% female) completed validated measures of their anxiety, stress, depression, PA, and social support for PA each quarter of their first year of university. Students were categorized as having low to moderate anxiety (LMA) or high anxiety (HA) based on their scores from the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-Trait version. Three MANCOVA’s with Bonferroni correction controlling for biological sex were conducted across study measures. Kruskal-Wallis tests were utilized for variables that violated homogeneity. RESULTS: Significant multivariate effects for anxiety levels were observed at each time point (fall: WL = 0.5 F(4, 469) = 118.6, p < 0.001; winter: WL = 0.5 F(4, 149) = 36.5 p < 0.001; spring: WL = 0.5 F(4, 81) = 23.9 p < 0.001). During the fall, students with LMA reported significantly lower stress (M = 14.2, SD = 4.7) and higher minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA (M = 332.7, SD = 344.6) compared to students with HA (M’s = 23.1, 252.6; SD’s = 5.0, 304.0). In winter and spring, students with LMA reported significantly lower stress (M’s = 13.6, 13.9; SD’s = 5.3, 5.2) than students with HA (M’s = 23.3, 23.0; SD’s = 5.4, 5.2). Kruskal-Wallis tests examined depression, revealing that students with LMA reported significantly lower depression scores at each time point (M =13.0, 12.8, 11.6; SD = 5.7, 5.3, 5.1 respectively) when compared to students with HA (M’s = 28.2, 28.0, 26.8; SD’s = 9.5, 9.7, 9.5 respectively). No significant differences were observed for PA behavior at additional time points. Social support for PA was not significant across groups at any time point. CONCLUSION: These preliminary findings indicate that first-year students who experience LMA are also more likely to report other positive mental health outcomes (i.e., lower stress and depression) throughout the year. PA may be an effective strategy for reducing students’ anxiety levels; however, social support for PA was not influenced by students’ anxiety levels.
Lee, NY and Rauff, EL
"THE INFLUENCE OF ANXIETY LEVELS ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF UNIVERSITY,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 8:
11, Article 40.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijesab/vol8/iss11/40