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Aerobic Fitness Level Affects Cardiovascular and Salivary Alpha Amylase Responses to Acute Psychosocial Stress


Wyss, Thomas; Boesch, Maria; Roos, Lilian; Tschopp, Céline; Frei, Klaus M; Annen, Hubert; La Marca, Roberto (2016). Aerobic Fitness Level Affects Cardiovascular and Salivary Alpha Amylase Responses to Acute Psychosocial Stress. Sports Medicine - Open, 2(1):33.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Good physical fitness seems to help the individual to buffer the potential harmful impact of psychosocial stress on somatic and mental health. The aim of the present study is to investigate the role of physical fitness levels on the autonomic nervous system (ANS; i.e. heart rate and salivary alpha amylase) responses to acute psychosocial stress, while controlling for established factors influencing individual stress reactions.

METHODS: The Trier Social Stress Test for Groups (TSST-G) was executed with 302 male recruits during their first week of Swiss Army basic training. Heart rate was measured continuously, and salivary alpha amylase was measured twice, before and after the stress intervention. In the same week, all volunteers participated in a physical fitness test and they responded to questionnaires on lifestyle factors and personal traits. A multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to determine ANS responses to acute psychosocial stress from physical fitness test performances, controlling for personal traits, behavioural factors, and socioeconomic data.

RESULTS: Multiple linear regression revealed three variables predicting 15 % of the variance in heart rate response (area under the individual heart rate response curve during TSST-G) and four variables predicting 12 % of the variance in salivary alpha amylase response (salivary alpha amylase level immediately after the TSST-G) to acute psychosocial stress. A strong performance at the progressive endurance run (high maximal oxygen consumption) was a significant predictor of ANS response in both models: low area under the heart rate response curve during TSST-G as well as low salivary alpha amylase level after TSST-G. Further, high muscle power, non-smoking, high extraversion, and low agreeableness were predictors of a favourable ANS response in either one of the two dependent variables.

CONCLUSIONS: Good physical fitness, especially good aerobic endurance capacity, is an important protective factor against health-threatening reactions to acute psychosocial stress.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Good physical fitness seems to help the individual to buffer the potential harmful impact of psychosocial stress on somatic and mental health. The aim of the present study is to investigate the role of physical fitness levels on the autonomic nervous system (ANS; i.e. heart rate and salivary alpha amylase) responses to acute psychosocial stress, while controlling for established factors influencing individual stress reactions.

METHODS: The Trier Social Stress Test for Groups (TSST-G) was executed with 302 male recruits during their first week of Swiss Army basic training. Heart rate was measured continuously, and salivary alpha amylase was measured twice, before and after the stress intervention. In the same week, all volunteers participated in a physical fitness test and they responded to questionnaires on lifestyle factors and personal traits. A multiple linear regression analysis was conducted to determine ANS responses to acute psychosocial stress from physical fitness test performances, controlling for personal traits, behavioural factors, and socioeconomic data.

RESULTS: Multiple linear regression revealed three variables predicting 15 % of the variance in heart rate response (area under the individual heart rate response curve during TSST-G) and four variables predicting 12 % of the variance in salivary alpha amylase response (salivary alpha amylase level immediately after the TSST-G) to acute psychosocial stress. A strong performance at the progressive endurance run (high maximal oxygen consumption) was a significant predictor of ANS response in both models: low area under the heart rate response curve during TSST-G as well as low salivary alpha amylase level after TSST-G. Further, high muscle power, non-smoking, high extraversion, and low agreeableness were predictors of a favourable ANS response in either one of the two dependent variables.

CONCLUSIONS: Good physical fitness, especially good aerobic endurance capacity, is an important protective factor against health-threatening reactions to acute psychosocial stress.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:December 2016
Deposited On:01 Nov 2017 10:48
Last Modified:02 Feb 2018 12:33
Publisher:SpringerOpen
ISSN:2198-9761
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-016-0057-9
PubMed ID:27747788

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