Baseline physical fitness as a determinant of resting neuro-psychological profile in students undergoing stressful professional course

Ashwin P. Vinod, Meenakshi Sinha, Jayshri Ghate, Ramanjan Sinha


Background: Several reports indicate that exercise has a positive impact on mental health. However, studies on whether altered physiological status in high fit individuals is reflected in their baseline neuro-psychological profile remains to be ascertained. The aim was to compare the EEG profile and their ability to handle stress in young adult students of high physical fitness with those of low physical fitness.

Methods: To achieve this objective, healthy adult male students (18-22 years age) undergoing stressful professional course were grouped into High fitness group (GI: PFI>80) and Low fitness group (GII:PFI<50) as per their Physical Fitness Index (PFI) scores in Harvard Step Test. Thereafter, their state and trait anxiety scores (STAI) were obtained and resting EEG were recorded for ten minutes.

Results: No significant difference in the STAI scores between these groups (State: 34.8±4.26 vs 37.57±7.89; Trait: 39.1±6.21 vs 40.29±8.77 in GI vs GII) were observed, supported by absence of significant cerebral lateralization in anterior alpha power band in either group (Right vs Left Frontal GI: 5.56±2.10 vs 6.55±2.12 uV2; GII: 5.03±1.14 vs 4.51±1.83 uV2) in addition to lack of right anterior dominance, thereby nullifying the cerebral lateralisation hypothesis as an indicator of anxiety level. However, there was a generalized predominance of alpha power in the anterior (GI vs GII: 6.05±1.82 vs 4.77±1.28 uV2), temporal (GI vs GII: 23.89±11.87 vs 19.10±12.41 uV2) and posterior (GI vs GII: 25.00±2.18 vs 18.37±0.72 uV2) regions in GI mainly in the right hemisphere.

Conclusions: Thus anxiety alone may not be a determinant of mental health in the high fit subjects who may have other dominant characteristics as envisaged by alpha predominance in their EEG profile.


Alpha power, Anxiety, Physical fitness, STAI questionnaire

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