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J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1991 Jun;31(2):277-82.

Reducing induced state anxiety: effects of acute aerobic exercise and autogenic relaxation.

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  • 1School of Physical Education, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of acute aerobic activity an an autogenic relaxation session on reducing induced state anxiety. Eighty-five university students were randomly assigned to one of three groups (a) aerobic, (b) relaxation, (c) control. Each group was tested separately. The general procedure consisted of anxiety induction, assessment, intervention, and assessment. The induced affect procedure involved having subjects visualize distressing images and generating high arousal states for ten minutes (Smith and Ascough, 1985). State anxiety was assessed by State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (form Y-1). The aerobic intervention lasted 40 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down. The relaxation intervention consisted of listening and following instructions on a tape for approximately 30 minutes (Budzyski T, 1974, "Limb Heaviness-Exercise MU3-3"). The control group was excused after anxiety induction and told to report back in 30 minutes. The data was analyzed by a 3 x 2 (groups by time) ANOVA with repeated measures on the last factor. The groups by times interaction was significant, F(2,82) = 13.07, p less than 0.01. Post-hoc analysis using Tukey with a normalized n indicated that both the aerobic and relaxation groups significantly reduce anxiety scores from pretreatment to post-treatment but were not different from each other. Both groups were significantly different from the control. The findings support the argument that an acute aerobic activity and relaxation session can reduce induced anxiety. These results have implications for motivating individuals to engage in exercise and activity to relieve anxiety generated by an acute stressor.

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