Self-Assessed Anxiety and Physical Fitness in South African University Students : In collaboration with the Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Western Cape
Abstract: Abstract Background/problem definition: Mental illness, such as anxiety, is a health problem affecting about 10-20% of adolescents worldwide. Studies have found a person’s physical fitness to be associated with their mental health, but most studies have been done in the western world and few have investigated sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. It has also been found that SSA countries’ guidelines regarding physical activity are few and incomplete, although the importance of it is well known. Aim: To investigate to what extent physical fitness: grip strength (GS), 20 meter shuttle run test (20MSRT), body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) correlate to self-assessed anxiety in South African students at the UWC. Methods: The study had a quantitative, cross-sectional and correlational research design with a non-randomized convenience sampling. The physical fitness data were collected through a hydraulic grip strength dynamometer, 20MSRT and by measuring anthropometric measurements in order to calculate BMI and WC. An electronic version of the GAD-7 form was used for self-assessed anxiety. Results: The results showed a significant positive correlation between BMI and levels of anxiety in women, but not in men. The correlation of anxiety related to WC, GS and 20MSRT showed no significance for the whole sample or related to gender, respectively. Conclusion: No significant correlation could be determined between physical fitness and anxiety. Severe anxiety affected 25% of the population, supporting previous research indicating that students are a group prone to anxiety.
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