Quantifying the Impact of Physical Activity on Stress Tolerance in College Students

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College Student Journal




Problem: Stress experience by millennial college students can be crippling. While stress is a universal and unavoidable phenomenon for college students, the variance in ability to handle stress can be attributed to stress tolerance (Welle & Graf, 2011). Research is needed to identify effective tools that increase college students' ability to tolerate and positively cope with stress.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to quantify the impact of physical activity associated behaviors and exercise types significantly associated with high stress tolerance (HST) among college students.

Methods: Research design employed was an quantitative, analytical, cross-sectional study of randomly selected college students (N=936) that completed a stress tolerance questionnaire (STQ) coupled with a physical activity log. Statistical differences by type of physical activity and stress tolerance were determined by Chi-Square and Odds Ratio (95%CI).

Results: Significant physical activity behaviors associated with HST included: exercised (p=0.001), engaged in leisure activity (p=0.004), engaged in extra-curricular activity (p=0.012), and engaged in extra-curricular sport (p=0.039). Three out of four types exercise were significantly associated with HST: vigorous exercise, stretching, and resistance training (p<0.05).

Conclusions: This study demonstrated the positive protective impact of physical activity behaviors and exercise on stress tolerance among college students.