Everyday stress components and physical activity: examining reactivity, recovery and pileup

  • David M. AlmeidaEmail author
  • David Marcusson-Clavertz
  • David E. Conroy
  • Jinhyuk Kim
  • Matthew J. Zawadzki
  • Martin J. Sliwinski
  • Joshua M. Smyth


The experience of naturally-occurring stress in daily life has been linked with lower physical activity levels. However, most of this evidence comes from general and static reports of stress. Less is known how different temporal components of everyday stress interfere with physical activity. In a coordinated secondary analysis of data from two studies of adults, we used intensive, micro-longitudinal assessments (ecological momentary assessments, EMA) to investigate how distinct components of everyday stress, that is, reactivity to stressor events, recovery from stressor events, and pileup of stressor events and responses predict physical activity. Results showed that components of everyday stress predicted subsequent physical activity especially for indicators of stress pileup. In both studies, the accumulation of stress responses over the previous 12 h was more predictive of subsequent physical activity than current stress reactivity or recovery responses. Results are compared to the effects of general measures of perceived stress that showed an opposite pattern of results. The novel everyday stress approach used here may be fruitful for generating new insights into physical activity specifically and health behaviors in general.


Ecological momentary assessment Everyday stress Physical activity 



This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science of Behavior Change Common Fund Program through an award administered by the National Institutes of Aging (UH2-AG052167). Support for the individual datasets was provided by the sources described below. For the Work and Daily Life (WDL), this work was supported by the Gallup Organization. For North Texas Heart study (NTH), this work was supported by the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Opportunity Network (OppNet) and by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01 HL109340).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

David M. Almeida, David Marcusson-Clavertz, David E. Conroy, Jinhyuk Kim, Matthew J. Zawadzki, Martin J. Sliwinski, and Joshua M. Smyth declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.University of CaliforniaMercedUSA

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