The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between physical, mental and spiritual health. An additional purpose was to determine if the practice of aikido was associated with measurable levels of somatic symptoms, perceived stress, anxiety and spirituality. Measurement instruments included Cohen’s 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Spielberger’s 20-item Trait Anxiety Inventory (TAI), the Patient Health Questionnaire-15 (PHQ-15), and the 16-item Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale (DSES).
A cross-sectional research design was utilized in this study to test the following hypotheses: (1) After controlling for demographic variables, daily spiritual experience will explain variability in perceived stress, anxiety and somatic symptoms, and (2) After controlling for demographic variables, aikido experience level as measured by belt rank will explain variability in perceived stress, anxiety, somatic symptoms and daily spiritual experiences. Hierarchical (sequential) regression was performed using SPSS version 15.0. The results did not support either hypothesis. Additional analysis, however, indicated that daily spiritual experience was associated with trait anxiety. More daily spiritual experience was associated with less trait anxiety (r = .131, p = .035). Specifically, more daily spiritual experience was associated with feeling pleasant, having less nervousness and restlessness, more satisfaction with self, fewer wishes to be as happy as others, more happiness, less discontentment and more steadiness (r = .124 to .205, p<.05). More daily spiritual experience also was associated with less trouble sleeping (r = .126, p<.05) as measured using the PHQ-15.
Belt rank in aikido was associated with 2 individual items on the PHQ-15. More experience in aikido was associated with more pain in the back (r = .191, p<.05), and more pain in the arms, legs and joints (r = .224, p<.05). Belt rank in aikido also was associated with 1 item on the TAI. More experience in aikido was associated with more feelings of steadiness (r = -.199, p<.05). When compared with normative data, female aikido students presented with lower perceived stress (t = 2.02, p<.05) as measured using the PSS. Aikido students presented with less daily spiritual experience (t = 4.83, p<.05) when compared with normative data for the DSES.