Janet R. Wojcik, Ph.D., FACSM


Exercise Science


College of Education


Physical Education, Sport, and Human Performance


Background: While stress is unavoidable, many college students face overwhelming levels of stress and lack proper stress management skills. Increased levels of stress can lead to poor mental and physical health as well as poor academic performance. Objective: To examine the differences in stress levels of students of different racial backgrounds who participate in for-credit vs. recreational physical activity (PA) classes. Methods: Participants (n=53) completed a survey composed of open-ended questions about stress and stress management, as well as the short-version International Physical Activity Questionnaires (IPAQ). Results: Because of limited sample size, no significant differences were found between students who were participants in recreational classes vs. for-credit classes. There were also no significant differences in stress levels between students from different racial backgrounds. However, results indicated that students who participated in recreational PA classes had a higher stress level entering class than students participating in for-credit PA classes. However, both types of PA classes lowered student stress levels. Conclusion: Data suggests that compared to students in for-credit PA classes, students participating in recreational PA classes may be doing so for the purpose of stress management and may be more aware of the benefits of PA in regards to stress management.