Stress, Physical Education, Physical Activity


The study purpose was to explore grade level differences (7th, 8th, and 9th) among junior high school students’ perception of participation in physical education class on individual environmental stress. Physical activity’s role as a stress reduction tool has been well documented. However, physical activity as a stressful event in the school and physical education environment has been less established; particularly in junior high school students. Study participants were comprised of 872 junior high school students, 585 males (67%) and 287 females (33%), enrolled in four junior high schools. Stratified by grade, 315 7th grade students (228 males and 87 females) (M = 1.28, SD = .448), 281 8th grade students (204 males and 77 females) (M = 1.27, SD = .447), and 276 9th grade students (153 males and 123 females) (M = 1.45, SD = .498) responded. By grade level, significant differences (p < .05) were reported for five of the twelve scaling questions. In general, 7th graders were more likely to respond they could better handle stress after participating in PE class, looked forward to coming to their physical education, reported lower stress levels before arrival to PE class, and reported lower stress levels after participation in PE class, than 8th and 9th graders. Altogether, follow-up qualitative finding reported three major themes regarding the physical education environment and stress. Physical education acted as a stress mitigation mechanism and an opportunity for social bonding. Qualitative findings also referenced classmates as a negative stress mechanism in the physical education environment.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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David O. McKay School of Education


Teacher Education

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor