Research in Outdoor Education


Recent studies have found that subjects with high hostility propensity have greater catecholamine (CA) and cortisol (Cf) levels during laboratory stressors. The present investigation sought to determine if similar patterns would be found in the naturalistic setting of an Outward Bound experience, and if high versus low aerobic fitness would influence CA and CT levels in this setting. Sixty-six individuals volunteered for the study from participants who had registered for a nine-day 'adult intensive' Outward Bound course. Thirty-one subjects were selected from those who volunteered. The Cook-Medley Hostility Inventory was completed by each subject prior to arriving for their course and aerobic fitness estimates were completed within the first six hours of the course using the University of Houston Non-Exercise Test Stress levels were quantified by urinary CA and CT excretion. Three to five hour urine samples were collected for the following activities: rockclimbing/rappelling, whitewater canoeing, ropes course, off-trail backpacking, commuting from airport to base camp and back, and one night-time sleep sample. At the beginning of each activity period, all subjects voided and at the end of the three to five hour period urine was collected, measured for total volume, and a sample was taken and ftw.en within two hours of collection. The urine was assayed by high-pressure liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection to determine levels of excreted epinephrine (E), norepinephrine (NE), and cortisol (CT). The CA and CT were then quantified by mg of creatinine. Of the 31 subjects (14 females and 17 males), nine were classfied as high hostile (HiHo) and 22 as average to low hostile (LoHo). The classifications for aerobic fitness were: 26 average to high fit (HF) with an estimated max V02 greater than 39 ml/kg for women and 46 ml/kg for men, and five low fit (LF) subjects with lower estimated V02 max. The data were analyzed by the two levels of hostility and two levels of aerobic fitness using univariate ANOVA with repeated measures across activity periods. The analysis of hostility revealed significant CT excretion differences between hostility levels for four of the nine activity periods with the LoHo subjects excreting higher CT levels. The four activities where this was found were: off-trail backpacking, (F=4.74, p