The Effect of Chronic Exercise on Trait Anxiety in College Students Open Access

Rothman, Michael Tyler (2010)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/02870v976?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
The Effect of Chronic Exercise on Trait Anxiety in College Students
By Michael T. Rothman, M.A.


The present study examined the effect of a semester-long exercise program on trait anxiety in undergraduate students. A sample of 627 students participated in a 13-week program of exercise (n = 402) or attended a Health Education class (n = 225) during the same time. Growth Curve Analysis (GCA) was used to examine the data across the beginning, middle and end of the study. Initial anxiety level, and not gender, moderated the association between exercise participation and anxiety, such that exercisers experienced significantly lower trait anxiety at the end of the study and a significantly faster decline in trait anxiety (as compared to students in the control group), to the extent that they had higher levels of anxiety at the start of the semester. Clinically significant change was experienced by 66% of clinically anxious exercisers and 20% of clinically anxious control group participants. For exercisers, all types of exercise were equally effective in reducing trait anxiety. This investigation, while providing additional evidence for the well-documented impact of chronic exercise on trait anxiety, also provides strong evidence for the role of initial anxiety level in moderating this effect. Employing GCA procedures in the data analysis allowed for a more nuanced examination of an effect which has received significant attention in both the exercise physiology and clinical psychology literature over the past 30 years. Implications of the study findings are discussed with respect to clinical applications and future research in this field.

The Effect of Chronic Exercise on Trait Anxiety in College Students
By
Michael T. Rothman
B.A., Emory University, 1996
M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2003
M.A., Emory University, 2007
Advisor: Stephen Nowicki, Ph.D.
A dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the
James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies of Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
in Clinical Psychology
2010

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Introduction...1
Method...29
Analytic Procedures...38
Results...39
Discussion...66
References...85
Appendix A: Informed Consent Form...92
Appendix B: Exercise Expectancy Questionnaire...94
Footnotes...96


Tables and Figures
Table 1: Pearson Product Moment Intercorrelations Between Trait Anxiety and Negative Affect for All Study Time points For the Full Sample...97
Table 2: Pearson Product Moment Intercorrelations Between Trait Anxiety and Negative Affect for All Study Time points for Exercise Group...98
Table 3: Pearson Product Moment Intercorrelations Between Trait Anxiety and Negative Affect for All Study Time points for Control Group...99
Table 4: Spearman Intercorrelations between Control Variables and STAI-Trait Scores at All Study Time Points for the Exercise Group...100

Table 5: Trait anxiety for male and female exercise and control participants at each study time point...101

Table 6: Effect Sizes and Percentage of Variance Accounted For for Group X Gender X Initial Anxiety Analysis for Time 3 Anxiety and Change in Anxiety Over Time (Controlling for Athletic Team Participation Only...102
Table 7: Trait anxiety for male and female exercisers and controls in each broad exercise category at each study time point...103

Table 8: Effect Sizes and Percentage of Variance Accounted For...104

Table 9: T-ratios and P-values For All Specific Activity Analyses (df=395)...105

Table 10: Trait anxiety for male and female exercisers and controls in each broad exercise category at each study time point...106

Table 11: Effect Sizes and Percentage of Variance Accounted For...108

Table 12: Effect Sizes and Percentage of Variance Accounted For Time 2 Anxiety...109

Table 13: Effect Sizes and Percentage of Variance Accounted For for Negative Affect...110
Figure 1: Mean Trait Anxiety at Each Study Time Point for Exercise and Control Participants with Initial Anxiety Scores Falling in the Clinical Range...111

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