Undergraduate nursing students experience educational rigor and challenging clinical experiences that potentially affect stress levels and increase the risk for adverse mental and physical health outcomes. Prolonged stress is associated with emotional exhaustion, unhealthy coping mechanisms, unhealthy behaviors, and impaired functioning. This evidence-based practice project aimed to decrease undergraduate nursing students' perceived stress levels by promoting physical activity. The PICOT question that led this project was in undergraduate nursing students (P), how does the promotion of physical activity (I) compare to no promotion of physical activity (C) affect perceived stress (O) across one semester (T)? The evidence supports physical activity as a non-pharmacological therapy that can reduce stress and positively impact academic performance and resilience.

During the implementation process, students self-enrolled in an online course, completed the Qualtrics Perceived Stress Scale, and reported their weekly minutes of physical activity before and after the intervention. It included evidence-based strategies to increase physical activity, the Move Your Way® campaign resources, and weekly synchronous online belly dance classes.

The outcomes and evaluation confirmed that various kinds of moderate-intensity activity decrease stress. Following eight weeks, participant’s stress levels reduced significantly, as in the body of evidence. Three ten-minute physical activity study breaks sessions a day can help the students attain the minimum physical activity guidelines for Americans of 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity.

Date of publication

Spring 4-26-2023

Document Type

DNP Scholarly Project



Persistent identifier


Committee members

Cheryl D. Parker, PhD, RN-BC, CNE, Committee Chair


Doctor of Nursing Practice