Home » News » Stress Management » Stress and Culture Influence Exercise Habits

Stress and Culture Influence Exercise Habits

Stress levels and cultural considerations affect how much and for what reasons college students exercise, according to research presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting.

One study, conducted by Rafer Lutz, Ph.D., found that college-aged women who do not exercise regularly are even less likely to be physically active when under stress. But those with consistent exercise levels accumulate more physical activity when experiencing similar emotions.

“I think our study suggests, more than anything, varying perceptions of exercise,” Lutz said.

“Someone who isn’t regularly active may view exercise as ‘one more burden’ when stressed, whereas those who make it a part of daily life may view it as a stress reliever and an escape from pressure.”

A second study examined exercise differences between more than 400 students American and Chinese college students. Researchers found that Americans typically exercise for weight control and physical appearance, while the Chinese exercise more for health and enjoyment reasons.

“These results reinforce the complexity of exercise behavior change, particularly among diverse and multicultural groups,” said lead study author Zi Yan, M.S.

“Although we didn’t study the origins of these exercise motivations, it may be a reflection of cultural values and what young people are taught to prioritize about themselves.”

ACSM guidelines support the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, which can be achieved in 30-minute segments five days a week.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine

Stress and Culture Influence Exercise Habits

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Stress and Culture Influence Exercise Habits. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.