Scheduled for Psychology Free Communications II, Friday, April 12, 2002, 7:30 AM - 8:30 AM, San Diego Convention Center: Room 7A

Anxiolytic Effects Following Acute Resistance Training: Does It Matter Whether Participants Stay In or Leave the Testing Environment?

Evan J. Short, Daniel M. Landers and Shawn M. Arent, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ

Recent research has shown the potential for anxiolytic effects due to resistance training, but many of these studies have allowed participants to leave the testing facility and return at a later time to complete anxiety questionnaires. Without providing information as to what participants have done when they were away from the testing environment, it is impossible to clearly interpret findings as due to exercise effects. The purpose of the present study was to examine anxiolytic effects following resistance training as a function of whether participants stayed in or left the testing facility. Male participants, who had at least one year of continuous weight lifting experience, were randomly assigned to either a "stay" (n=12) or "go" (n=11) group. Within each group, all participants completed both a weight training session based on 50% of their individual 1 repetition maximum (RM) for each of five lifts and a non-exercise control session. All participants remained in the laboratory for 60 minutes following each session. Those in the "go" group then left the laboratory and returned at 90 and 120 minutes while those in the "stay" group remained for the entire 120 minutes. Anxiety was assessed with the STAI (short form) and the POMS-tension scale at pre-exercise and at 5, 15, 30, 60, 90 and 120 minutes post-exercise. A mixed factor repeated measures ANOVA was performed with group ("stay" vs. "go") as the between-subjects factor, condition (exercise vs. control) as the within-subjects factor, and the seven time points as the repeated measures factor. The results for both the STAI and POMS showed significant main effects for Exercise (p < .05) as well as significant Time by Exercise interactions (p < .001). There was also a significant main effect for Time for the STAI (p < .01). There were no significant main effects or interactions involving the Group factor (i.e., "stay" or "go"). Resistance exercise produced increased anxiety and tension immediately following the exercise bout, but resulted in an anxiolytic effect by 60 minutes post-exercise. The control condition showed an anxiolytic effect only at 5 minutes after session completion. These results support the results of other studies showing environmental variables to have little or no impact on anxiolytic effects for aerobic or anaerobic exercise. The consistency with which anxiolytic effects, and its time course, are found suggests the involvement of physiological mechanisms rather than purely a psychological or social-environmental explanation.
Keyword(s): exercise/fitness, health promotion, physical activity

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