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Does Light Physical Activity Reduce Blood Pressure Responses to Laboratory Stressors?

Thomas, Mark Carmine (2022) Does Light Physical Activity Reduce Blood Pressure Responses to Laboratory Stressors? Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Previous literature generally suggests that exaggerated blood pressure responses to stress, which is associated with increased risk for later cardiovascular disease (Chida & Steptoe, 2010), can be reduced after engaging in brief bouts of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (Hamer et al., 2006). Observational work has shown that periods of light physical activity may also be associated with reduced blood pressure responses to stress in daily life (Thomas et al., 2019), however, the few experimental studies involving light physical activity have methodological limitations that temper conclusions. The current investigation sought to understand the effects of brief bouts of light physical activity on blood pressure responses to psychological stress. In a between-person, single-session experimental design, 179 healthy, young adults were randomized to 15 minutes of light physical activity, moderate physical activity, or sitting before engaging in a 10-minute computerized Stroop Color-Word Interference Task. Blood pressure readings were collected throughout the study session. Surprisingly, participants in the light physical activity group showed higher systolic blood pressure responses to stress than the control participants. These findings show that light physical activity may not be related to reduced blood pressure responses to stress in an experimental session involving healthy, college-aged adults and question the extent to which brief bouts of light and moderate physical activity may reduce blood pressure responses to stress when measured in an acute experimental session. Future work investigating the relationship between light physical activity and blood pressure responses to stress may be more productive after long-term interventions rather than in acute settings.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Thomas, Mark Carminemct22@pitt.edumct22
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKamarck,
Committee MemberManuck,
Committee MemberGianaros,
Committee MemberJennings, J.
Committee MemberBarone Gibbs,
Date: 12 October 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 11 June 2021
Approval Date: 12 October 2022
Submission Date: 14 July 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 129
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: light physical activity, blood pressure, stress reactivity, stress responses
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 18:58
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2022 18:58


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