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Bonnie G. Berger and Erika Friedman

Jogging and other relaxation techniques help some people reduce psychological stress. Little is known, however, about the benefits for people who do not personally select the particular activity, or about comparable effectiveness. We compared the stress reduction benefits of jogging, Benson's relaxation response, group interaction, and a control group in a nonclinical population. College students (iV=387) were randomly assigned to treatment. After completing the Profile of Mood States (POMS), a demographic inventory, and a measure of social desirability, students practiced a stress reduction activity for 12 weeks. They completed the POMS before and after group meetings at monthly intervals. Jogging and the relaxation response helped students reduce short-term stress significantly more than did group support (p<.04). Students in all three techniques reported significantly greater short-term reductions in stress than did the controls (p<.03). Given that there were no long-term benefits, participants need to practice their activities regularly if they want continued benefits.