Stress Reduction in Healthy Adults: Does the Initial Stress Level Make a Difference?
1Medizinische Universität Graz, Universitätsklinik für Medizinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie, Graz, Austria
Background: The stress-relieving effects of methods including physical activity and/or relaxation were investigated. It was examined whether participants with an initial high vs. low stress level showed a different relaxation response. Methods: Participants took part in four methods: (1) physical activity combined with resting, (2) physical activity combined with balneotherapy, (3) combined relaxation (resting and balneotherapy) or (4) resting only. Blood pressure, saliva cortisol, state of mood and the status of relaxation were measured pre- and post-intervention. Groups with a high vs. low stress level were determined by validated questionnaires. Findings: 81 healthy participants were analysed (31% in the high stress group). Both groups showed significant and similar relaxation responses. The high stress group felt more awake after methods including balneotherapy (2 and 3). In this group saliva cortisol increased after physical activity combined with resting (1), while in all other groups it decreased significantly. Discussion: Results indicate that the development of personalized strategies for stress reduction that take into account the initial stress level could be beneficial.