Differences in Perceived Stress, Affect, Anxiety, and Coping Ability Among College Students in Physical Education Courses
Levine, Rachel Permuth
Gold, Robert S
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Because college students are a unique group with distinct environmental, situational, and interpersonal stressors, they are an important population for studying potential stress management techniques. Since physical activity is a renowned means of stress reduction, a logical area for exploration is whether college students' engagement in various forms of physical activity courses is related to improvements in individual perceptions of health-related constructs from the start of a course until its end. The purpose of this research was to understand whether college students who were enrolled in various physical education courses differentially self-report perceived stress, anxiety, coping ability, and affect after the conclusion of their courses. Specifically, this study examined whether these differences existed between students enrolled in yoga classes and those who were enrolled in other Kinesiology courses such as weight lifting, aerobics, and golf. This cross-sectional exploratory study involved a self-administered questionnaire that was administered at the end of Summer 2006 semester. 108 students met inclusion criteria. Survey sections addressed each of the independent and dependent variablesidentified for the study and included the following reliable and valid survey instruments: Perceived Stress Scale, Brief COPE, Inventory of College Students Recent Life Experiences, Positive and Negative Affect Scales and State Trait Anxiety Inventory. The final section of the survey collected student characteristic and attitudinal information. Contrary to the main hypothesis that students enrolled in yoga classes would report less perceived stress, they actually reported significantly more perceived stress than their counterparts (p <. 002). However, yoga students reported using more positive coping strategies over the past month than nonpractitioners (p <.008). More research needs to be conducted with pre-and post-tests between students or other population groups who practice yoga in order to understand whether yoga practice may be a factor in reducing stress over time. The observations from this study suggest that yoga may be a unique type of physical activity that may be 'sought out' by high-stressed persons or those wishing to learn strategies to cope with their stress.