Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology



First Advisor

Bryan J. Blissmer


Problem Statement and Background: Anxiety is prevalent and associated with high comorbidity and reduced quality of life. The efficacy of disseminable, inexpensive methods of anxiety management need to be studied. Such methods, including exercise (EX) and mindfulness practice (MP), have been shown to be effective compared to traditional treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or pharmaceuticals. However, there is limited work investigating these methods, or their combination, in an anxious population.

Methods: Females (N = 970) were screened from the university population to identify those with high levels of anxiety (≥ 3 on GAD-2 screen). Fifty-six anxious females (M age = 19.3 yrs) were recruited to participate in one of four randomized 20-min conditions in a 2x2 design using acute bouts of mindfulness (MP) and/or exercise (EX). The conditions included: EX+MP; EX+distraction video (noMP); noEX+MP and noEX+noMP. The STAI-Y was used to measure state and trait anxiety. A 2x2 repeated measures ANOVA was used to test the effects of EX, MP, and their interaction on state anxiety at baseline, and immediately-, 5-, 10-, and 20 mins posttask. Follow-up ANCOVAs were used to test differences between groups at each time point, while controlling for baseline anxiety.

Results: There were no evident interaction effects, but there were significant main effects of MP [F(2.73,142)=7.71, p<.05, partial ɳ2=.13], EX [F(2.73,142)=5.03, p<.05, partial ɳ2=.09], and time [F(2.73,142)=18.71, p<.05, partial ɳ2=.27] on state anxiety. Follow-up ANCOVAs showed that the MP groups had significantly lower anxiety than the noMP groups immediately after the task [M=30.14, SD=7.05 vs. M=35.07, SD=9.77; F(1,53)=16.71, p<.001, partial ɳ2=.24], and 5 min post-task [M=30.12, SD=7.55 vs. M=34.29, SD=9.94; F(1,53)=11.23, p=.001, partial ɳ2=.18]. The EX groups had significantly higher anxiety (M=35.17, SD=9.58) than the noEX groups [M=29.65, SD=6.86; F(1,53)=6.79, p<.05, partial ɳ2=.11].

Conclusions: Overall, mindfulness practice had the greatest anxiolytic effect. Although there were reductions in state anxiety in the EX groups, the effects were notably stronger immediately post-task in those who did not exercise (noEX+MP and noEX+noMP). This was surprising given the previous research, but we did find that those who exercised and watched the video were significantly more anxious than those exercising who engaged in the mindfulness practice immediately and 5 minutes after exercise. Future studies should investigate exercise and mindfulness treatments over more variable timeframes, and at different intensities to further explicate the dynamics of these disseminable anxiety management strategies.



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