The contribution of perceived fitness to physiological and self reported responses to laboratory stress

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International Stress Management Association


This study sought to evaluate the contribution of perceived physical fitness beyond the contributions of gender, body mass index (BMI), defensiveness, and estimated aerobic fitness on both physiological and self-reported stress responsivity to laboratory-induced stress. Ninety healthy individuals (45 males, 45 females) participated in the experiment. Participants completed a laboratory procedure measuring cardiovascular responses (i.e. pulse rate and blood pressure) and self-reported rating of anxiety (i.e. the anxiety scale from the Multiple Affective Checklist–Revised—MAACL–R) while performing stressful laboratory tasks (i.e. the Stroop Color Naming Test and Serial 7's). Estimated aerobic fitness (i.e. VO2max using the Bruce protocol) as well as perceived fitness (using a 10-point Likert scale) were also determined. Multiple regression and effect size results revealed that perceived fitness significantly contributed to the variance associated with both physiological and self-reported responses to laboratory stress. Specifically, perceived fitness significantly added to the variance beyond that attributed to gender, BMI, defensiveness, and estimated aerobic physical fitness while assessing pulse rate and MAACL–R anxiety scores. Overall results support the view that perception of fitness may be an important factor above and beyond aerobic fitness in its association with physiological and self-reported responses to stress.