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Resilience From Exercise Competency

Competency and exercise boost resiliency.

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Two people high fiving during exercise for resilience

Resilience is valuable, particularly during stressful times, and exercise is known to be a valuable tool for building it. New research shows that feelings of competence may facilitate an individual’s ability to optimize the resilience gained from physical activity.

South China Normal University researchers in Guangzhou studied whether feelings of competency, autonomy and/or relatedness impacted the relationship between physical activity and stress resilience.

Researchers surveyed 2,375 male and female Chinese college-aged students from six universities. Data analysis showed that feeling competent had the most impact on the effects of physical activity and resilience. Autonomy, or feeling a sense of self-determination, was also significant (19.21%), but not as much as competency. Relatedness—the importance of maintaining interpersonal relationships—minimally impacted the relationship between physical activity and resilience (12.58%).

Given these findings, fitness professionals may want to consider ways to build participants’ sense of competency by acknowledging accomplishments during training sessions.

Study limitations include its short duration and the fact that it is associational and cannot establish cause and effect. The study is published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2021; 18 [7], 3722).

See also: Stress Physiology

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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