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The bidirectional relationship between physical activity and stress in working parents

Groves, Claire Isabelle (2022) The bidirectional relationship between physical activity and stress in working parents. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Physical activity is widely known to have many physical and mental health benefits. Despite this, a large portion of the population fails to engage in regular physical activity. One commonly reported barrier to physical activity is stress. However, stress has also been shown to decrease when engaging in physical activity. Working parents are a subpopulation that has a relatively high risk for stressor exposure and limited available free time to engage in physical activity. Limited research has attempted to untangle the day-to-day associations between physical activity and stress among a working parent population. The purpose of this study is to examine the bidirectional relationships between daily physical activity and stressor frequencies and severity within working parents using a microlongitudinal approach, while simultaneously assessing differences between mothers and fathers. Using a subsample of 667 working parents (47.7% female, Mage 43, 81% married, 84.9% White) from the National Study of Daily Experiences, structural equations modelling was used to examine the dynamic links between daily stressors and physical activity. Overall, the models for fathers were not deemed a good fit, however, the models for mothers did have adequate fit. The measurement paths from the latent variables to their respective variables were significant, whereas the vast majority of the structural relations between physical activity and stressors were not significant. Due to poor fit for fathers’ models, no conclusions can be made. It appears that daily physical activity and daily stress (both number of stressors and perceived severity) are not related among working mothers. Further, these findings suggest that for working mothers, encountering a stressor on one day may not be detrimental to the amount of physical activity that they perform the next day. And, if physical activity engagement is low on one day, both the number of stressors and their severity appear not to increase. Results of the aggregated linear regressions were not significant for number of stressors or the severity, providing further evidence for a lack of relationship between the variables. Future research should examine daily links between physical activity and stress among fathers utilizing a different model. Given the non-predictive relationships, future work should also examine the different methods for reducing daily stress and their severity among working parents.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: daily diary; daily stressors; microlongitudinal; physical activity; working parents
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Psychological Sciences
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 21:25
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2022 08:30
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5879

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