THE EFFECT OF UNSTRUCTURED VERSUS STRUCTURED CARDIO EXERCISE ON MOOD AND PHYSIOLOGICAL REACTIVITY TO STRESS
A. Anderson, M. Flood, J. Moon, S. Coste
Linfield College, McMinnville, OR
PURPOSE:Previous research has shown that physical activity (PA) reduces stress related physiological responses and anxious behavior. However, only ~40% of college-aged students met the recommendations for moderate or vigorous activity. This has lead health care advocates to seek ways to improve PA levels. It has been shown that PA programs that incorporate games, referred to as unstructured PA, can increase the amount of time spent in moderate to vigorous activity in young children and adolescents. Unstructured PA provides high levels of social interaction and support which may play a role in reducing stress responses. The purpose of this study was to examine whether unstructured physical activity improves mood and reduces physiological responses to an acute stress compared to structured aerobic activity in college students. METHODS:Twelve participants (age 18-22 years, 4 males & 8 females) were recruited. Baseline heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), and mood were measured. Participants were then randomized to either unstructured (ultimate Frisbee) or structured (treadmill) PA groups. HR was recorded throughout the 15 min PA session. HR and BP reactivity to the Stroop task was measured following a 15 min recovery period post exercise. RESULTS: Heart rate was significantly elevated throughout both the structured (ave 169±10 bpm) and unstructured PA (ave 169±21 bmp) sessions. The Stroop task significantly increased heart rate and blood pressure in both groups, with no significant difference between groups. However, mood ratings were significantly improved following unstructured PA (baseline 5± 1.7 vs post PA 2±1.3, p <.05) but not structured PA (baseline 4.8±0.9 vs post PA 4.3±1.3). CONCLUSION: Unstructured PA showed similar heart rate intensity as structured PA. While stress reactivity was not different between groups, our results suggest that just 15 minutes of unstructured, social PA is an effective means to improve mood in college students.
Anderson, A; Flood, M; Moon, J; and Coste, S
"THE EFFECT OF UNSTRUCTURED VERSUS STRUCTURED CARDIO EXERCISE ON MOOD AND PHYSIOLOGICAL REACTIVITY TO STRESS,"
International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings: Vol. 8:
6, Article 16.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijesab/vol8/iss6/16