The effect of weight training and jogging on trait anxiety



The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between the effects of a weight-training program (anaerobic exercise) and a jagging program (aerobic exercise) on bait anxiety. Trait anxiety refers to the level of stress that people experience on a regular basis. This type anxiety tends to remain relatively stable much of the time. People with high trait anxiety tend to be more anxious during stressful situations as compared to people with low trait anxiety. The training protocol consisted of either a jagging program 3 days a week or weight-training exercises 3 days a week for an 8-week period. Pretest and posttest trait anxiety assessments were taken. Trait anxiety mean scores for the weight-training, jagging, and control groups, respectively, were: pretest=40.6, 40.4, and 40.2; posttest=38.5, 37.4, and 39.9. The reduction in trait anxiety by the jagging group was significantly (pc05) greater than that experienced by the control group. The weight-training group also showed a significant (p<. 10) decrease in trait anxiety when compared to the control group, but no significant difference existed between the reductions attained by the weight-training and jogging groups. It was concluded that under the delimitations of this study, both jagging and weight training are associated with trait anxiety reduction.

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A common belief is that many health benefits are associated with a program of regular exercise. Benefits from physical fitness include both physical and psychological well-being. Recent studies have demonstrated that the psychological benefits are becoming just as important as the physiological benefits to justify why a person exercises (deVries, 1986).

Various psychological parameters may be enhanced from physical training including reduced depression, elevated mood, and improved self-concept (Brown, Ramirez, & Taub, 1978 ; Eide, 1982 ; Folkins & Sime, 1981; Hilyer & Mitchell, 1979). A reduction in anxiety has been demonstrated following aerobic exercise programs (Blumenthal, Williams, Wallace, & Needels, 1982; Folkins, Lynch, & Gardner, 1972; McGlynn, Franklin, Lauro, & McGlynn,1983; Mellion, 1985). Walking, jogging, running, and swimming have been associated with a significantly greater reduction in anxiety when compared to non-exercising control groups (Berger, & Owen,1983; Folkins, 1976; Hayden, & Allen, 1984).

The idea that aerobic exercise is associated with anxiety reduction appears well-documented. However, there seems to be a lack of evidence concerning the psychological benefits of anaerobic exercise, specifically weight training, with regard to anxiety. Consequently, the major focus of this investigation was to examine the effects of jogging (aerobic exercise) and weight training (anaerobic exercise) on trait anxiety. Trait anxiety refers to the level of stress that people experience on a regular basis. This level remains relatively stable much of the time. People with high trait anxiety generally tend to be more anxious during stressful situations than people with low trait anxiety.

A total of 188 students from beginning weight training classes (N=65), jogging classes (N=44), and a control group (N=79) of students enrolled in an introductory health class at Moorhead State University volunteered to serve as subjects for this experiment. An inventory of physical activity was taken of all students and those who were engaged in some form of regular aerobic or anaerobic activity other than jogging or weight training were eliminated from the study.

Treatment Programs
The two experimental programs used to reduce trait anxiety were weight training and jogging. Subjects were required to record all workouts and maintain a training log.

The weight training group completed 10 different strength exercises designed to increase muscle development in the major muscle groups of the body a minimum of three times a week for an 8-week period. In each exercise the student was asked to perform three sets of 10 repetitions for the first 4 weeks and four sets of 6 repetitions during the second 4 weeks. Resistance was set so that muscle failure occurred within the last set. Whenever more than the required number of repetitions could be accomplished on the last set, the resistance was increased (approximately 10 pounds) to overload the exercising muscle.

The jogging group trained a minimum of 3 days per week and was instructed to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes per day for an 8-week period. Training intensity was expressed as a percentage of the maximal heart rate. To calculate the target heart rate zone, the subjects subtracted their age from 220 and multiplied the result by 60% and 85%.

The control group did not participate in a weight training or jogging program over the period of the study. As with the treatment groups, subjects engaged in other aerobic or anaerobic activities were eliminated from the study.

All subjects completed the State Trait Anxiety Inventory, Form Y, during the first week and again at the conclusion of the 8-week experiment to assess trait anxiety. Trait anxiety refers to long-term patterns of behavior that may be described as "anxiety-proneness": that is, the tendency for an individual to perceive stressful situations as dangerous or threatening and to respond to such situations in an anxious manner (Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1970).

Statistical Analysis
To determine if a significant difference existed between the pretest and posttest trait anxiety scores for the jogging, weight training, and control groups, the t-test was used. These data were also subjected to analysis of covariance in order to determine if there was a significant difference between the three groups. This statistical procedure adjusts posttest scores for initial differences on a particular variable--in this case the pretest score--thus, controlling for pretest differences. A t-test was also used to determine if there were significant differences between mean changes in trait anxiety scores between the jogging and control groups, the weight training and control groups, and the jogging and weight training groups.

Demographic Characteristics
There were 188 subjects involved in this study; 18 males and 26 females in the jogging group (n=44); 32 males and 33 females in the weight training group (n=65), and 19 males and 60 females in the control group (n=79). The average age of the students participating in this study was 20.2 years, with a range from 18 to 37 years. Please refer to Table 1 for these demographic characteristics.

To determine student effort in the treatment program, cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength were monitored during the 8-week training period. The jogging subjects showed an average improvement of one minute and 38 seconds for the 1 .5-mile run test. Muscular strength was evaluated by adding the one-repetition maximum scores of the benchpress, leg-press, overhead-press, and biceps-curl exercises. The weight training subjects showed an average improvement of 107 pounds. This improvement would suggest that the majority of the students did exert considerable effort in their training program.

Trait Anxiety
Table 2 shows the mean trait anxiety and standard deviation scores on pre-and posttests for the jogging, weight training, and control groups.

All groups experienced a reduction in trait anxiety from pre-to posttesting. However, only the reductions for the jogging and weight training subjects were noted to be significant (p<.05). No significant reductions were experienced by the control group. Although there were more females than males in the control group, no statistical difference between the male and female subjects was discovered.

In determining whether these mean reductions noted for the three groups were significantly different when compared to each other, an analysis of covariance was calculated. This comparison was found to be significant (p<.05). Although these data suggest that significant differences exist, this procedure does not delineate where the differences might occur. Therefore, multiple l-tests were used to examine the mean reductions in trait anxiety for all three groups (see Table 3).

A comparison of the control group and the jogging group showed that the jogging group experienced significant (p<.05) reductions in trait anxiety during the training period. Although the weight training group reduced trait anxiety more than the control group, there was no significant difference between the two groups at the .05 level. However, a significant difference was noted between the control group and the weight training group at the .10 level. In comparing the jogging and weight training groups, there was no significant difference in the anxiety reductions of these experimental groups, but both groups show greater score decreases over the course of the study than did the control group.

This study demonstrates that jogging and weight training conducted over an 8-week period resulted in significant reductions in trait anxiety. The observations of this study which consider the effects of aerobic and anaerobic activity on anxiety are consistent with others where the experimental period varied from 6 to 8 weeks. Previous studies by Hayden and Allen (1984), Blumenthal et al. (1982), and McGlynn et al. (1983), suggest that a program of jogging and running will significantly decrease anxiety. Likewise, other aerobic activities including swimming, soccer, and calisthenics have also resulted in decreased anxiety (Berger & Owen, 1983; Goldwater & Collis, 1985). Thus, it appears that an aerobic activity which elevates the heart rate to the target-hear/rate zone may result in decreased trait anxiety.

Few studies have actually investigated the relationship between anaerobic exercise, specifically weight training, and anxiety. Weight training can improve psychological well-being because of positive changes in self-esteem (Dishman & Gettman, 1981; Tucker, 1983). These studies showed subjects satisfied with their strength gains and enhanced physical appearance. Anxiety was not one of the psychological benefits tested whereas it was the primary area of focus in this experiment. While reductions in trait anxiety were observed in the weight training subjects after the 8-week period, they were not significant at the .05 level when compared to the control group, but were significant at the .10 level. Previo'us weight training studies have shown some psychological benefits after a 16-week training period, and perhaps a longer period of time is required for those engaged in weight training to note a reduction in trait anxiety similar to that observed in the jogging group.

In conclusion, a reduction in trait anxiety occurred following both the jogging and weight training programs when conducted for an 8-week period. However, the reductions were greater with the jogging (aerobic exercise) program than with the weight training (anaerobic exercise) program.

Table 1
Demographic Data

AGE (Years) Average= 20.0
Range = 18 to 37

TYPE OF GROUP: Male Female Total

Control 19 60 79
Jogging 18 26 44
Weight Training 32 33 65
Total 69 119 188


Jogging (1.5-Mile Run Time)
Average Improvement = 1:38
Range = 18 seconds to 5:47
Weight Training (Total weight Lifted)
Average Improvement = 107 pounds

Table 2
Trait Anxiety Scores of Jogging Weight Training, and Control Groups


Pre-trait anxiety 44 40.4 9.2
Post-trait anxiety 44 (*)37.4 9.2
Weight training:
Pre-trait anxiety 65 40.6 8.4
Post-trait anxiety 65 (*)38.5 8.7
Pre-trait anxiety 79 40.2 9.8
Post-trait anxiety 79 39.9 9.3

(*) p<.05

Table 3
Mean Reductions for Trait Anxiety


Jogging 3.1(*) 8.8
Control 0.3 4.9

Weight training 2.2(**) 6.4
Control 0.3 4.9

Jogging 3.1 8.8
Weight training 2.2 6.4

(*) p<.05
(**) p<.10
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By James A. Gemar Moorhead State University and Richard F. Bynum Moorhead State University

James A. Gemar is an Assistant Professor and Richard F. Bynum an Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation at Moorhead State University, Moorhead, MN, 56560.

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Very helpful, especially for those who suffer from anxiety. My friend also suffered from this one, she enrolled herself in a fitness program, sometimes she enjoy herself with the warm water of their pools. It gives her comfort and relaxes her. She's now doing good. I will recommend this post to her! Thanks again!

Nice post. I really learned a lot, thank you so much! I'm very eager to run tomorrow and try this program and hopefully get better results, together