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Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress

 

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adamUK  (C 104423)

May 17, 2013, 5:07 AM
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Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress Can't Post

I thought this was interesting. Also here

Quote:
Skydivers show the same level of physical stress before every jump whether a first-timer or experienced jumper, say Northumbria researchers.
null

Previous laboratory studies have observed that when an individual is repeatedly exposed to a stressful situation, such as public speaking or performing mental arithmetic in front of an audience, their physiological responses – levels of arousal and stress hormones – decrease as they become accustomed to it. Such studies conclude that the more you are exposed to a stressor, the less you will respond to it.

Scientists at Northumbria University, led by Dr Michael Smith, set out to discover whether the same affect would occur in a real world setting.

The researchers studied 24 healthy male skydivers – 11 novices carrying out their first solo skydive, and 13 experienced skydivers who had completed at least 30 jumps – asking them to self-report their level of anxiety and also taking saliva samples to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol before and after the jump.

They found that, although novice skydivers reported feeling more anxious prior to the jump than experienced skydivers, both sets of jumpers responded with the same levels of biological stress reactions to the jump.

Their study, published online in Physiology & Behavior, is the first to observe that skydiving increases levels of cortisol which does not reduce even with repeated exposure to jumping. The results also indicate that self-reports of anxiety in experienced skydivers did not match up with their actual biological stress reactions. Though they may not have perceived themselves as being as anxious as the novice skydivers, their bodies still showed the same stress reactions as a first time jumper.

Dr Michael Smith, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, said: “This study is significant because it reveals how people respond to stressors in the real world. Very few studies have been able to examine people’s true reactions as it would be unethical to deliberately and repeatedly expose volunteers to severe stress in a laboratory situation. Therefore, the most stressful laboratory situations have tended to be exercises in public speaking or performing difficult tasks in front of an audience.

“We used skydiving as our ‘real world’ stressor because it is an activity that does pose a genuine risk to safety and survival. Although repeated exposure to a stressor dampens the stress response in the laboratory, our findings show that this is not the case for real life stressors which pose a threat to survival.”

The findings highlight the usefulness of skydiving as a naturalistic stressor in future research.

The full article, entitled ‘State anxiety and cortisol reactivity to skydiving in novice versus experienced skydivers’ is published in the May online edition of Physiology & Behavior – the official journal of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society. The researchers of the study are: Olivia Hare, Dr Mark Wetherell, and Dr Michael Smith, from Northumbria University’s Stress Research Group.

Oli Hare, one of the research team, is a jumper at our DZ, Peterlee. Smile


shorehambeach  (C License)

May 17, 2013, 5:30 AM
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Re: [adamUK] Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress [In reply to] Can't Post

Great article - any chance of getting the whole thing without paying 30USD ??

Smile Tongue Cool


raveninca  (B 6377)

May 17, 2013, 5:41 AM
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Re: [adamUK] Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress [In reply to] Can't Post

Why would they pick 30 jumps as experienced? I know myself I was still asking myself wft I was doing sitting in a plane about to jump out on jump 32. I only have 137 jumps now and I am just starting to feel relaxed and not as nervous on the ride to altitude. I would like to see the comparison between first time students and jumpers with 1000+ jumps.


BIGUN  (D 23385)

May 17, 2013, 5:55 AM
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11 novices carrying out their first solo skydive and 13 experienced skydivers who had completed at least 30 jumps

Not a wide enough range of experience enough to generate a proper result set.


Hellis

May 17, 2013, 5:59 AM
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raveninca wrote:
Why would they pick 30 jumps as experienced? I know myself I was still asking myself wft I was doing sitting in a plane about to jump out on jump 32. I only have 137 jumps now and I am just starting to feel relaxed and not as nervous on the ride to altitude. I would like to see the comparison between first time students and jumpers with 1000+ jumps.

That was my reaction too.

And it got worse when I read.

Quote:
one of the research team, is a jumper at our DZ, Peterlee.


adamUK  (C 104423)

May 17, 2013, 6:03 AM
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Re: [Hellis] Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have a copy of the paper but I think the experience levels of the 'experienced' set would include those with a lot of jumps as well as those without.

I'll see if I can get hold of it (though I know it's copyrighted but the rules for funded research have changed to relax availability) for a good ol' peer review by the DZ.commers Tongue


pchapman  (D 1014)

May 17, 2013, 6:15 AM
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Re: [adamUK] Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd also like to know the conditions of the jumps.

How does the stress level vary with the type of jump? Is it the same for a playful solo jump, compared to when one is trying to do the best formation work possible, and not one's friends down? (Even in a non-competition setting)

I'm asking whether it is the "jumping from a plane and not dying" that is stressful, or the challenges that we set for ourselves in under a minute of freefall?

How does this compare to other sports & recreation? How stressed is someone going down a ski run, depending on its difficulty relative to their skills?

Still, the study sounds interesting, and maybe some day someone will have a copy they can share freely.

Edit:
As for the low sounding experience level, the abstract for the paper does at least show that jump numbers are often higher.

I might as well quote the whole abstract to have it here, minus the graphs:

Quote:
Abstract

Previous studies have suggested that skydiving, a naturalistic stressor, is associated with increases in self-reported stress, anxiety and cortisol levels. However, it has not been established whether this stress reactivity is altered as a function of repeated exposure to skydiving. This is of interest due to previous observations that cortisol reactivity becomes habituated with repeated exposure to laboratory stressors, however, few studies have investigated such habituation to naturalistic stressors. State anxiety and cortisol reactivity to skydiving were measured in 11 first-time skydivers and 13 experienced skydivers (>= 30 jumps, mean jumps = 397.6), who were to complete a solo skydive. The novice skydivers reported significantly greater levels of state anxiety prior to the jump; however, there were no differences in pre-jump levels of salivary cortisol. Both groups exhibited significantly elevated salivary cortisol levels immediately post-jump, relative to i) pre-jump and ii) recovery. However, the two groups were indistinguishable with regards to their cortisol reactivity to the skydive. These findings support previous research demonstrating that skydiving elicits acute cortisol activation. Further, they suggest that i) cortisol reactivity does not habituate in experienced jumpers, and ii) that there is lack of concordance between self-reported levels of anxiety and biological stress reactivity in experienced skydivers.


(This post was edited by pchapman on May 17, 2013, 6:32 AM)


adamUK  (C 104423)

May 17, 2013, 7:17 AM
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Quote:
And it got worse when I read.

Quote:
one of the research team, is a jumper at our DZ, Peterlee.

Someone's got to get the saliva from the jumpers before exit. It's be pretty hard to be allowed to do this unless you actually a licenced parachutist. I'd hate to see the cortisol levels of the person collecting the samples if they weren't collecting swabs from a plane on run in Tongue

Anyway... what's wrong with Peterlee? Wink


(This post was edited by adamUK on May 17, 2013, 7:23 AM)


Premier wmw999  (D 6296)

May 17, 2013, 7:29 AM
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Re: [Hellis] Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the controlling factors in some research is what you have access to. Maybe the DZ they used doesn't have all that many jumpers who were both experienced and willing to participate.

Maybe it would have taken more money (that they didn't have) to travel and get a wider set of jumpers. Either way, as long as its disclosed (and someone might even write to the journal) it's honest. And maybe it will pique the interest of a lab with more money, who will do a bigger project, or one with different parameters.

Wendy P.


Hellis

May 17, 2013, 7:59 AM
Post #10 of 45 (6399 views)
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Re: [adamUK] Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress [In reply to] Can't Post

adamUK wrote:
Quote:
And it got worse when I read.

Quote:
one of the research team, is a jumper at our DZ, Peterlee.

Someone's got to get the saliva from the jumpers before exit. It's be pretty hard to be allowed to do this unless you actually a licenced parachutist. I'd hate to see the cortisol levels of the person collecting the samples if they weren't collecting swabs from a plane on run in Tongue

Anyway... what's wrong with Peterlee? Wink


Nothing wrong with him, I think. Never meet him though Tongue

My point was a jumper was involved.
When I read "expirienced jumpers with more than 30 jumps" I was sure it was only whuffos involved.
It feelt odd that a jumper would "agree" with expirienced jumpers beeing >30 jumps.


potatoman  (Student)

May 17, 2013, 8:13 AM
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I did a couple of jumps the other day, measuring my heart rate, and was amazed.

My heart rate increased by so little with exit and during the jump. The only time it really went up was with landing --> running the beast out. Crazy


oli2842

May 17, 2013, 9:24 AM
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Re: [adamUK] Skydiving, reported stress and physical stress [In reply to] Can't Post

As a member of the research team for this study (the jumper), I'd like to clarify a few things after some of the comments I have read here...

Firstly, this was an undergraduate dissertation project for a BSc, and as such, was not a funded piece of research. The limited funds available could not, therefore, stretch to cover the extensive number of participants we would have liked (had this been a funded study). We were also limited to collecting data between the end of October and February, which as UK jumpers will be aware, aren't known to be the best months for skydiving (not only due to bad weather, but also due to DZ closure over winter)
therefore it wasn't possible to collect data every weekend.

Regarding criticisms of the categorisation of jumpers, the experience level at the DZ I was collecting the data from was not generally very high, therefore the decision was made to use a jump number by which many would probably have their 'A' licence.
The point in the study was to compare the stress response in individuals jumping for the first time and those who had experienced repeated exposure to the activity. We were not deeming these people to be the most experienced skydivers in the sport by any means, but comparing people who had (and hadn't) jumped before.
The range of jumpers included people with a considerable number of jumps. Only a few participants had numbers close to our minimum of 30, we had many around 350 (as you will see if you look at the mean jump number of the participants, provided in the abstract) and there were also jumpers with over 1000 jumps. The results however, revealed no differences in the physiological stress response (cortisol levels), despite there being considerable differences in psychological stress between the first time jumpers and those who were qualified.

With regard to the types of jumps for each individual: This was of course recorded, and is included in the research paper. The novice jumpers were static line jumpers (it was important that the jumpers were all responsible for themselves and first-time jumpers, hence no level 1 AFF or tandems), and the 'experienced' were carrying out FF and flat jumps (mostly with others). I am aware that ideally they would have all been the same jump type, and I would have liked to compare the different types had the sample been bigger, but as I explained, for a number of reasons (weather, collecting data from October-February- with the DZ closed over winter period etc), we had to work with the sample available.

I hope this clears a few things up.
I for one, am very happy with what was achieved under the time and financial restraints, but I am of course aware that if these factors were not an issue, the methodology of the study could have been improved.

Oli (Olivia)

P.s. Thank you Wendy P for considering the constraints that we were working with and not jumping to conclusions where some others have...


(This post was edited by oli2842 on May 17, 2013, 11:01 AM)


pchapman  (D 1014)

May 17, 2013, 9:56 AM
Post #13 of 45 (6301 views)
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Well that's science - for every thing you learn, you can come up with a couple questions.

Still some interesting results, even if one would want to see what literature there is on other sports and activities (beyond public speaking), and trying to find the source of the stress response.

Of course I haven't seen the paper so these sorts of ideas might be touched on already.

From a web search, it looks like the published info is just starting to make it into the blogs and other news-ish sites, so it'll be interesting to see how much interest it gathers elsewhere as a bit of offbeat info at bigger news sites. (And I bet a lot of the little articles will be written just based on the university press release, instead of reading the actual paper.)


Rstanley0312  (D 31900)

May 17, 2013, 9:59 AM
Post #14 of 45 (6295 views)
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adamUK wrote:
I thought this was interesting. Also here

Quote:
Skydivers show the same level of physical stress before every jump whether a first-timer or experienced jumper, say Northumbria researchers.
null

Previous laboratory studies have observed that when an individual is repeatedly exposed to a stressful situation, such as public speaking or performing mental arithmetic in front of an audience, their physiological responses – levels of arousal and stress hormones – decrease as they become accustomed to it. Such studies conclude that the more you are exposed to a stressor, the less you will respond to it.

Scientists at Northumbria University, led by Dr Michael Smith, set out to discover whether the same affect would occur in a real world setting.

The researchers studied 24 healthy male skydivers – 11 novices carrying out their first solo skydive, and 13 experienced skydivers who had completed at least 30 jumps – asking them to self-report their level of anxiety and also taking saliva samples to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol before and after the jump.

They found that, although novice skydivers reported feeling more anxious prior to the jump than experienced skydivers, both sets of jumpers responded with the same levels of biological stress reactions to the jump.

Their study, published online in Physiology & Behavior, is the first to observe that skydiving increases levels of cortisol which does not reduce even with repeated exposure to jumping. The results also indicate that self-reports of anxiety in experienced skydivers did not match up with their actual biological stress reactions. Though they may not have perceived themselves as being as anxious as the novice skydivers, their bodies still showed the same stress reactions as a first time jumper.

Dr Michael Smith, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, said: “This study is significant because it reveals how people respond to stressors in the real world. Very few studies have been able to examine people’s true reactions as it would be unethical to deliberately and repeatedly expose volunteers to severe stress in a laboratory situation. Therefore, the most stressful laboratory situations have tended to be exercises in public speaking or performing difficult tasks in front of an audience.

“We used skydiving as our ‘real world’ stressor because it is an activity that does pose a genuine risk to safety and survival. Although repeated exposure to a stressor dampens the stress response in the laboratory, our findings show that this is not the case for real life stressors which pose a threat to survival.”

The findings highlight the usefulness of skydiving as a naturalistic stressor in future research.

The full article, entitled ‘State anxiety and cortisol reactivity to skydiving in novice versus experienced skydivers’ is published in the May online edition of Physiology & Behavior – the official journal of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society. The researchers of the study are: Olivia Hare, Dr Mark Wetherell, and Dr Michael Smith, from Northumbria University’s Stress Research Group.

Oli Hare, one of the research team, is a jumper at our DZ, Peterlee. Smile

My thought is that this study means nothing. Not a good range at all. What they denote as experienced is a joke. Even at 100 jumps my nerves shot up still...... now I still feel them especially after a layoff but I know physiologically it is not even close to the same as it was when I started.


excaza  (C License)

May 17, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Interesting how all the armchair researchers come out of the woodwork and start nitpicking/dismissing the research out of hand without even bothering to investigate.

Sigh...


Southern_Man  (C License)

May 17, 2013, 10:20 AM
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Rstanley0312 wrote:
now I still feel them especially after a layoff but I know physiologically it is not even close to the same as it was when I started.

I don't think you "know" physiologically unless you are measuring as they did in the experiment. You may "feel" less psychological stress but that is not necessarily the same thing. Many things people think they know turn out to be incorrect under examination.


dthames  (B 37674)

May 17, 2013, 10:25 AM
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Quote:
How does the stress level vary with the type of jump? Is it the same for a playful solo jump, compared to when one is trying to do the best formation work possible, and not one's friends down? (Even in a non-competition setting)

I'm asking whether it is the "jumping from a plane and not dying" that is stressful, or the challenges that we set for ourselves in under a minute of freefall?

I too think these are major considerations. A good example, I have been doing solo wingsuit jumps, just learning the basics. My first two-way recently and I noticed some increased nervousness.

I think it would also be interesting to monitor the same person from first jump through 100 or more. Maybe test each tenth jump or so....apples and apples.


Rstanley0312  (D 31900)

May 17, 2013, 10:47 AM
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Southern_Man wrote:
Rstanley0312 wrote:
now I still feel them especially after a layoff but I know physiologically it is not even close to the same as it was when I started.

I don't think you "know" physiologically unless you are measuring as they did in the experiment. You may "feel" less psychological stress but that is not necessarily the same thing. Many things people think they know turn out to be incorrect under examination.

There are some physiological things I cannot measure... that is true but others that I can. Heart rate, perspiration, etc. I do not think the study is invalid I just think they did not really consider factors they needed to consider. 30 jumps is nothing and can hardly be considered "experienced". The type of jump has a lot to do with it as well.


tomcraw

May 17, 2013, 10:55 AM
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In reply to:
Really interesting study!! Thanks for posting!! Smile congratulations on the publication!! Look forward to reading future work!

A bit disappointing to see all the usual sky-gods with their ignorant views, leaving their ill-informed opinions on what is actually a very well carried out study for an undergrad dissertation! But don't worry about that, they seem to plaster stuff everywhere! Tongue the vast majority of us realise that skydiving was used as a 'real-world' technique to get actual stress responses, and that the number '30' (jumps) is in fact greater than the number '1'. Smile So you could argue that in the world outside of skydiving, 30 or more jumps is quite experienced! Besides, the average jump number for the experienced group in this study is something like 350!! (and I know this because I took the time to read the abstract literature of the published paper..... thus.... informed opinion). Well done on a great study and an interesting result!!!

T


Rstanley0312  (D 31900)

May 17, 2013, 10:59 AM
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tomcraw wrote:
In reply to:
Really interesting study!! Thanks for posting!! Smile congratulations on the publication!! Look forward to reading future work!

A bit disappointing to see all the usual sky-gods with their ignorant views, leaving their ill-informed opinions on what is actually a very well carried out study for an undergrad dissertation! But don't worry about that, they seem to plaster stuff everywhere! Tongue the vast majority of us realise that skydiving was used as a 'real-world' technique to get actual stress responses, and that the number '30' (jumps) is in fact greater than the number '1'. Smile So you could argue that in the world outside of skydiving, 30 or more jumps is quite experienced! Besides, the average jump number for the experienced group in this study is something like 350!! (and I know this because I took the time to read the abstract literature of the published paper..... thus.... informed opinion). Well done on a great study and an interesting result!!!

T

What does questioning the study have to do with a "skygod attitude"? Answer: NOTHING and by the way 350 jumps is not a lot either. Would 350 laps in a race car be considered experienced? I think not. Again, great little study but hardly conclusive.

By the way "Tom" I noticed you just registered and this is your first post... interesting.


(This post was edited by Rstanley0312 on May 17, 2013, 11:01 AM)


tomcraw

May 17, 2013, 11:11 AM
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point proven Smile thanks mate.


pchapman  (D 1014)

May 17, 2013, 11:15 AM
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tomcraw wrote:
A bit disappointing to see all the usual sky-gods with their ignorant views, leaving their ill-informed opinions

Ill-informed? Sure, all we had was an abstract and a press release by the university. No harm in asking questions.

One gets the problem where in an original paper, all the limitations and caveats of the study are made clear. Then the news gets a hold of it and say, "Scientists conclude that ....", at which point we may complain about the presumptuousness of ivory tower elites. The real problem is that we get a very filtered version of events to which to react to.

(We haven't gotten that far with this study, since it isn't exactly all over the news at this point.)


adamUK  (C 104423)

May 17, 2013, 11:36 AM
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Hi mate. I know Tom. He's a regular jumper. It's not an alias for everyone else.

I think he was alluding to the same statement made by excaza a few posts up.

It is rare that skydiving gets the academic treatment so I thought I'd post the abstract and it makes interesting reading. By all meas criticize the paper because that's how science works but I suggest you read the paper first. Smile


Rstanley0312  (D 31900)

May 17, 2013, 11:37 AM
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tomcraw wrote:
point proven Smile thanks mate.

I know my point was proven ambiguous poster....


zhol

May 17, 2013, 11:38 AM
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I read the original paper, and, I must say, I am very impressed with the quality of the study for an undergrad! I think, regarding people with only 30 jumps taking part, what is interesting to note, is that regardless of the (arguably) low level of experience of some of the participants, the self reported anxiety of the "experienced" group was significantly lower than the "novice", yet their measured cortisol levels weren't. The argument about the sample size and jump numbers would be a lot more valid if the psychological difference was low as well.

It is not mentioned in the paper, but I assume, the person doing the data analysis would have checked whether they get any significance if they remove the low jump people from the sample, and, I suspect, the result was much the same, hence they included everyone. I don't know if this is true though...


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