A pilot study to examine the effects of Tai Chi on the stress vulnerability of male college students

Date

2009-05

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of Tai Chi in decreasing stress vulnerability and coping in male college students. Both subjective (perceived) and objective (physiological) responses to stress were analyzed to determine vulnerability and coping to a psychological stressor. Twenty, male college students were randomly assigned to either the control (CTRL) or intervention (TC) group. The TC group practiced Tai Chi twice a week for 8 weeks with each session having a 10min warm-up, 40min TC exercise and a 10min cool-down. The stressor test simulated a stressful situation and consisted of math problems, anagrams, block designs and an extemporaneous speech. To measure perceived stress vulnerability and coping, the Stress Vulnerability Questionnaire, the Perceived Stress Scale, and Spielberger’s State Anxiety Inventory (SSAI). To measure stress vulnerability and coping objectively, the RMSSD, LF & HF powers, and LF/HF ratio were determined as measures of the heart rate variability (HRV) and serum cortisol concentration was also examined. Coping style was also examined with the use of the Problem-Focused Styles of Coping (PFSOC) questionnaire. Significant differences were found in the RMSSD between groups. Significant group by test interactions were found in the SSAI and the PFSOC-suppressive style. TC was shown to increase HRV, and may also decrease perceived anxiety and reduce the suppressive coping style of students when immersed in a stressful situation. No studies have investigated the effect of TC on stress vulnerability and coping of college students to date.

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Keywords

Stress vulnerability, Heart rate variability, Stress

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