Hall, Kristina

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Background: The demands of rigorous nursing education programs often cause students to experience high levels of stress and anxiety during their schooling. Moderate to high academic stress and anxiety levels impact nursing students around the world. This is significant as academic stress and anxiety contribute to decreased academic success, program completion, and student health.

Local Problem: Students at Kettering College and Southern Adventist University were found to have moderate academic stress and anxiety using the SNSI and GAD-7.

Intervention: Participants (N = 24) engaged in a 4-week aerobic-exercise intervention. They were required to complete a minimum of 80 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise of their choice each week. Pre-test and post-test data were collected.

Results: Statistically and clinically significant decreases were found in SNSI (p = .009, Hedge’s G = 0.954, 95% CI [0.1147–1.720]) and GAD-7 (p = .025, Hedge’s G = 0.747, 95% CI [0.003–1.453]) scores among completers (n = 8). Additionally, significant decreases were seen in three out of four SNSI subscales (academic load, clinical concerns, interface worries). On average, completers reported weekly exercise durations that exceeded the required 80 minutes, with an average of 226 minutes per week.

Conclusion: Aerobic exercise produced a statistically and clinically significant decrease in stress and anxiety among completers. The small sample size and high attrition rates point to a need for future research that takes into consideration the lessons learned in this project.

Search Terms: academic stress, stress, anxiety, stress and anxiety reduction, nursing students, college/university students, aerobic exercise, exercise