The physiological effects of stress in populations that exhibit signs of chronic diseases compared to athletes
Sarpong, Philip Kwaku
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Current research has demonstrated that stress is a contributing factor to many chronic disease states in our world today. Diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol are just a few health conditions in which stress can worsen these disease states in individuals. Stress is apparent in individuals with chronic disease but can also appear in those dealing with high-performance anxiety such as student-athletes. Stress does not discriminate in how it can affect people physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even though stress can affect a diverse range of people, there may be similarities among different groups affected by stress such that lessons can learn from each other. For example, research has shown the overwhelming benefits of exercise on physical health and mental health. Yet, even though athletes train consistently, they can still feel the adverse effects of stress on their mental well-being and emotional health. This feeling may be due to the pressure incited to perform at a high level during athletic events. Another adverse area of stress for athletes is the reality that their career will at some point end. This reality may be in their early 30s or 40s. The feelings of loss of purpose are common for many prior athletes and instills additional fear in navigating life direction after sports. In contrast, chronically ill patients go through different events because their stress is directly due to their illness. However, many studies reveal similarities between athletes and those who have a chronic disease regarding mental and emotional coping mechanisms for stress. This thesis addresses these similarities and discusses how both groups even though they have vital differences can learn from one another when dealing with stress.