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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Efficiency of coping with a real-life stressor : a multimodal comparison of fit and unfit males Brooke, Sam


Aerobic fitness is associated with several psychological and physiological adaptations which possibly allow psychological stressors to be coped with more efficiently. The present experiment examined whether aerobic fitness mediates the psychological and physiological responses to a real-life psychological stressor. The stressor task involved carrying out a 15-metre rappel for the first time. A further objective was to examine if the Type A Behaviour Pattern also mediated the response. Subjective anxiety, heart rate, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and Cortisol were monitored in 9 fit and 9 unfit male subjects, (age range 21 - 33), at various intervals before and following exposure to the stressor task. Multivariate analysis of variance with repeated measures analysis was used to analyse the data. All measures increased markedly in both groups during the stressor. Fit subjects had lower levels of heart rate and tended to recover to baseline more quickly post-stressor. Unfit subjects reported less subjective anxiety from pre- to post-stressor, and then recovered more slowly during post-stressor rest. No endocrinological differences were shown, and no differences between Type A and Type B groups were revealed. This suggests that aerobically fitter individuals may be capable of faster recovery on heart rate and subjective anxiety, and therefore potentially have a more adaptive response showing better coping efficiency. These results, and the lack of endocrinological and Type A/B differences are discussed in light of current research.

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