Health Sciences Program Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Health Science

Copyright Statement

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of Nova Southeastern University. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.


College of Health Care Sciences – Health Science Department

First Advisor

Sarah Ransdell

Second Advisor

Jodi Clark

Third Advisor

Julia Aucoin

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


A national cohort of undergraduate college students who participated in the spring 2019 National College Health Assessment II (NCHA) reported stress as their number one academic impediment. While stressis a complex phenomenon, there is evidence that describes physical activity as a small but significant predictor of stress levels. The dissertation was a correlational study of retrospective, de-identified, secondary data from a national cohort of 43,756 undergraduate students, aged 18-24 who participated in the spring 2019 NCHA. The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship between physical activity, including aerobic and strength, and self-reported stress within the cohort. Chi-square analyses found a statistically significant (p<.001) inverse relationship between meeting the aerobic or strength physical activityguidelines and stress category. Additionally, a multivariate linear regression model identified moderate-intensity aerobic, vigorous-intensity aerobic, and strength activity as small but statistically significant (p<.001) contributing factors to account for variances in stress levels. When demographic variables were considered, general health was found as the greatest contributing factor for stress. The dissertation study concluded that participation in either aerobic or strength activity was associated with reduced stress in the cohort, and general health may be an important factor to predict stress levels. The results can be disseminated to postsecondary institutions and their students to inform and develop physical activity programs to improve general health and reduce stress in postsecondary students.


Other Medicine and Health Sciences


College, Exercise, Physical activity, Stress, Undergraduate, University

Available for download on Thursday, December 21, 2023