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Original articles  SPORT PSYCHOLOGY 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2005 March;45(1):105-11


language: English

Physical fitness as a resource in coping with stress among high school students

Guszkowska M.

Department of Psychology Academy of Physical Education, Warsaw, Poland


Aim. Physical fitness may be considered as a personal resource helping to cope with stress. The aim of the study was to examine how physical fitness affects psychological distress and health status in adolescents.
Methods. This study was carried out for over 2 years and the participants were 253 Polish high school students (82 boys, 171 girls; mean age =15.4; SD=0.17). They were examined using the International Physical Fitness Test, Profile of Mood States, and a questionnaire developed by the author to assess the intensity of stress due to daily hassles, frequency of stress-related somatic symptoms, as well as self-assessed psychological well-being and physical health.
Results. ANOVA indicated significant interactions between physical fitness and gender for both sexes. While among boys better well-being, mood (i.e. higher levels of positive and lower intensity of negative mood states), and health (higher levels of self-rated health and less numerous physical complaints) were found in those with better physical fitness, among girls the relationship was reversed, i.e. more positive well-being, mood and health were exhibited by the less fit (0.05≥p≥0.01). Moreover, significant main effects of stress intensity and gender were noted: students with more intense stress experiences had lower levels of positive well-being (p<0.001), mood (positive states p=0.01; negative states p<0.001) and health (p<0.001); and girls not only less favorably assessed their health (p<0.001), experienced more somatic complaints (p=0.01) but also manifested more marked negative mood states (p<0.05).
Conclusion. The study shows that physical fitness may be an important resource helping to cope with stress, and that its role in coping with stress may be different in boys than in girls.

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