Purpose/Objectives: To determine whether acute exercise reduces state anxiety and whether this reduction is moderated by the sample (i.e., breast cancer survivors versus those without a cancer diagnosis), exercise intensity (i.e., moderate versus light), and the potential sample times intensity interactions; and to explore whether changes in self-efficacy and state anxiety reciprocally predict each other as suggested by social cognitive theory.
Design: Repeated-measures, experimental pilot.
Setting: University laboratory.
Sample: Breast cancer survivors (n = 25) and age-matched women without a cancer diagnosis (n = 25).
Methods: Cycling for 20 minutes at light and moderate intensities on two separate occasions. State anxiety and self-efficacy measures were completed before, immediately following, and 10 minutes after exercise.
Main Research Variables: State anxiety, self-efficacy, and light and moderate exercise.
Findings: 2 (sample) × 2 (intensity condition) × 3 (time) repeated-measure analyses of variance revealed a main effect for time (p < 0.01, η2 = 0.37, F[2, 86] = 24.687), but between-sample and exercise intensity interaction effects were not significant. Autoregressive path analysis using ordinary least squares multiple regression revealed significant reciprocation for self-efficacy and anxiety pre-exercise (light intensity β = 0.49, p < 0.05; moderate intensity β = -0.37, p < 0.05) and post-exercise (moderate intensity β = -0.31, -0.23, p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Acute exercise at light and moderate intensity decreases state anxiety for breast cancer survivors and those without a diagnosis. Additional research is warranted.
Implications for Nursing: Light- and moderate-intensity exercise may be a valuable alternative anxiolytic tool that also allows for the acquisition of myriad additional known health benefits associated with exercise.