2010-2011 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
April Nicole Scherzer
Stress is common, particularly in college students when it comes to juggling school, work and social lives. How college students manage their stress is different from person to person. Common stress management techniques include leisure exercising, aerobic exercising, smoking, drinking, over eating, and under eating. How a college student manages their stress can ultimately affect their academic performance, commonly measured by grade point average (GPA). To evaluate the relationship between academic performance and stress management techniques, a survey was administered to 200 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky. The participants included 65 males (age 20.907 +/- 1.809 years) and 135 females (age 20.037 +/- 1.975 years). The average Fall 2010 GPA for the 2010 of all the participants was 3.38 +/- 0.53. Nearly 40% of the participants reported using aerobic exercise when stressed, 16.37% reported using leisure activities and 14.71% reported eating more when stressed. It was found that there was a statistically significant negative correlation between participants who smoked cigarettes to relieve stress (Smokers GPA = 3.05 +/- 0.639; Non-smokers GPA = 3.435 +/- 0.367) and GPA. As well, there was a positive correlation between aerobic exercise as a form of stress management and high GPA. Participants who reported an increase in aerobic exercise when stressed had an average GPA of 3.515 +/- 0.42 versus participants who reported a decrease in aerobic exercise when stressed (3.345 +/- 0.549). This research offers further support that how a college student handles their stress does ultimately affect their academic success. College students should be better educated on effective and safe stress management techniques.