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Perceived Stress Predicts Lower Physical Activity in African-American Boys, but not Girls

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Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine cross-sectional relationships of psychological stress, stress coping, and minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in Amer- ican-American (AA) boys and girls. Methods: A community-based sample of 139 AA adolescents (mean age 14.7 years; SD = 1.8 years; 64.7% girls; 30% obese) from Washtenaw County, Michigan was included in this analysis. Psychological stress was assessed using the Daily Stress Inventory and the Perceived Stress Scale. Coping strategies were evaluated using the Schoolager's Coping Strategies questionnaire. Physical activity was measured objectively via accelerometry. Results: Compared to boys, girls participated in approximately 13 fewer minutes of MVPA (p < .001) per day and reported significantly higher levels of daily stress (p = .03) and perceived stress (p < .001). In addition, girls reported using a greater number of coping strategies (p = .01) at a greater frequency (p = .04) compared to boys. However, perceived stress significantly predicted lower levels of MVPA (p = .03) in boys only. Conclusions: There are important gender differences in how AA girls perceive, experience, and cope with stress compared to AA boys. Although AA girls reported higher levels of stress and employed more coping strategies, perceived stress was associated with physical inactivity in AA boys, but not girls. Additional research is warranted to better understand the influence of stress on the choice to be physically active in AA youth.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Correspondence Dr Hasson;

Publication date: 01 March 2018

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

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