Sunday, December 4, 2011
Moderate-Intensity Exercise and its Reduction of Chronic Stress Burnout in College Women who Perform no Regular Physical Activity
If you were to go out and ask 12 random people on the street what their definition of stress was, you would more than likely get 12 different answers. This is due to the fact that there is not a definition of stress that everyone can agree on. In 1936, Hans Selye coined the term stress, defining it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change” (“Stress, Definition”). Stress can cause a multitude of cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral ...view middle of the document...
Women, opposed to men, like to “tend and befriend” (“Stress and Your Health”) others and those close to them.
Review of Related Literature:
The International Journal of Stress Management recently published an article by Erica S. Sandlund and Torsten Norlander that contained a compilation of studies on the effect of Tai Chi and exercise on stress response and well-being. Tai Chi is the point of interest in the experiments for its unique aspect of “combining the exercise of rhythmic movement and self-defense practice with a kind of yogic relaxation through deep breathing, self-awareness, and the attempted connecting of mind and body” (Sandlund and Torsten 140). During the performance of Tai Chi, the student is influenced to integrate both mind and body into every motion. There are 5 main focal points of Tai Chi: 1) Relaxation, 2) Separating Yin and Yang, 3) Turning the Waist, 4) Keeping the Back Erect, 5) Total Body Involvement.
Based on a study performed using African Americans in the United States, Mack (1980) proposed that Tai Chi was an effective stress management activity. The study incorporated African American males who had to deal with the constant stress of negative cultural, religious, and sociopolitical elements associated with their skin color. The men reported having numerous indicators of stress: headaches, hypertension, constipation, restlessness, and stomach ulcers. The men were put through a 24-week Tai Chi program and completed post-exercise evaluations to evaluate the affect, physiological and psychological experience, and sense of control of the exercise. Subject’s evaluations revealed a significant difference in their tension, ability to recognize stress, and their ability to control their stress through their behavior.
Mack attributes this conclusion to the relaxation response of Tai Chi exercise: “an integrated hypothalamic response, the cortical-thalamic pause which leads to decreased activity of the sympathetic nervous system and relaxes the skeletal muscles, decreases blood pressure, respiration and pupil constriction” (qtd. in Sandlund and Torsten 144).
This study by Mack was well planned and evaluated. However, the subjects used were male and it has been proven that women are more prone to stress than men because of their psyche. The exercise used in the study, Tai Chi, was also effective, but meditative nature of the exercise was emphasized. It can possibly be concluded that the Tai Chi was effective because of not only the gender of the subjects, but also the race of the subjects. Different races are known to have different genetic pre-dispositions to physiological conditions such as blood pressure, which could also explain the results of the study.
The following hypothesis will be examined:
Moderate-intensity exercise can have a positive effect on female college students who do not perform any regular physical activity.
Ten female college students participated...