Public defence of doctoral thesis | Physiological responses to acute physical and psychosocial stress – relation to aerobic capacity and exercise training | Elin Arvidson, University of Gothenburg

On Thursday, May 2, 2019, at 13:00, Elin Arvidson will present and defend her dissertation Physiological responses to acute physical and psychosocial stress – relation to aerobic capacity and exercise training at the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg, at Pedagogen, room BE 036.

The external reviewer is Professor Carl Johan Sundberg, Karolinska Institutet, and the examining committee is made up of Professor Eva-Carin Lindgren, School of Health and Welfare, Halmstad University; Dr. Anna Söderpalm Gorth, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, University of Gothenburg; and Professor em. Ulf Lundberg, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University.

Elin Arvidson’s principal supervisor has been Professor Ingibjörg H Jonsdottir, University of Gothenburg; Professor Mats Börjesson, University of Gothenburg and Senior lecturer Lennart Gullstrand, University of Gothenburg, have been assistant supervisors.


The introductory chapter of this compilation thesis is available here in full text, open access.


English abstract

The main purpose of this thesis was to explore the possible effects of exercise training on acute physiological stress reactions, and to study relationships between the physiological responses to acute physical and psychosocial stress. The included articles are based on a randomized controlled study (RCT), conducted at the Institute of Stress Medicine in Gothenburg. Healthy but untrained individuals were invited to participate in the study. All included participants performed a physical and a psychosocial stress test before randomization to either a control- or an intervention group. The intervention consisted of six months of regular aerobic exercise training, and after the intervention period both groups were retested.

The analyses showed that most individuals did react physiologically to both physical and psychosocial stress. However, no associations were found between aerobic capacity and the magnitude of response to acute stress. Furthermore, acute physiological responses were not related to perceived stress during the psychosocial stress test. Several methodological issues obstructed the interpretations of the effects of exercise training on physiological responses to acute stress.

An interesting finding was the diversity in the magnitude of response to the stress tests. Large intra-individual differences were seen, with a number of participants not responding physiologically to neither physical nor psychosocial stress. This phenomenon might explain the divergent results in previous studies, and the lack of consensus regarding the effects of aerobic capacity and exercise training in physiological responses to acute stress.

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