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Exercise and Psychological Well-Being

Chapter 17
by

Lindsey Swanson

on 8 April 2013

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Transcript of Exercise and Psychological Well-Being

A special case... A euphoric sensation, usually unexpected, of heightened well-being, an enhanced appreciation of nature, and transcendence of time and space

Evidence that there is a chemical change (endorphins) in the brain related to the runner’s high

Characteristics conducive to the runner’s high are few distractions; cool, calm weather and low humidity; and a duration of at least 30 minutes

Runners differ regarding whether and how often they experience the runner’s high and may require slightly different sets of conditions to get it Why should we care? Exercise and Psychological Well-Being Across their lifetimes, 25% of people will experience anxiety disorders and 20% depression

By the year 2020, depression will be second only to cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death and disability

Anxiety disorders and depression cost the public $45 billion a year

Exercise positively influences feelings of well-being and decreases anxiety and depression

Mental health problems account for 30% of the total days of hospitalization in the U.S. and 10% of the total medical cost Reduction of Psychological Symptoms How exactly does exercise help? Exercise and Overall Mood Exercise improves positive mood regardless of the number of negative and positive affects experienced in a given day

Exercisers with choice of exercise mode scored lower on negative affect than exercisers having no choice

Perception of fitness may be responsible for part of the mood-enhancing effects of exercise (as opposed to the actual level of fitness itself) Other Impacts of Exercise Anxiety Depression Acute Effects Chronic Effects Aerobic exercise is associated with lower state anxiety and higher tranquility scores

Exercise intensities between 30% and 70% of maximal heart rate appear to be associated with the greatest reduction in post-exercise state anxiety

All levels of intensity improved affect but moderate-intensity exercise produced the greatest positive effects

For anaerobic exercise (e.g., weightlifting), mood-enhancing effects are evident at 30% to 50% maximum heart rate

Although acute exercise is no more effective in reducing state anxiety than quiet rest or relaxation, the effects last longer Exercise training is particularly effective for people who have elevated levels of anxiety, but will reduce anxiety even for people with low levels of anxiety

All durations of exercise significantly reduce anxiety, although larger effects have been found for periods of up to 30 minutes (especially under moderate intensity levels)

State anxiety returns to pre-exercise anxiety levels within 24 hours (and maybe as quickly as 4 hours)

Exercise is associated with reductions in muscle tension

The anxiety reduction after exercise occurs regardless of intensity, duration, or type Physical fitness is positively associated with mental health and well-being

Exercise is associated with the reduction of stress emotions such as state anxiety

Anxiety and depression are common symptoms of failure to cope with mental stress, and exercise has been associated with a decreased level of mild to moderate depression and anxiety

Long-term exercise is usually associated with reductions in traits such as neuroticism and anxiety

Appropriate exercise results in reductions in various stress indicators, such as neuromuscular tension, resting heart rate, and some stress hormones

Exercise has beneficial emotional effects across ages and sexes A moderate relationship exists between exercise (anaerobic and aerobic) and depression

Correlation, not a cause—effect relationship

Exercise can be as effective as psychotherapy in reducing depression

Severe depression usually requires professional treatment, which may include medication, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, or a combination of these, with exercise as an adjunct

Exercise produces larger antidepressant effects when the training program is at least 9 weeks long

Reductions in depression after exercise do not depend on fitness levels

Exercising three to five times per week produces significant reductions in depression compared to once-a-week exercise Use rhythmic abdominal breathing
Avoid interpersonal competition
Make it a closed predictable activity
Use rhythmic and repetitive exercise movements
Exercise 20 to 30 minutes in duration, moderate intensity, 2 or 3 times per week
Make it enjoyable Exercise Suggestions for Enhancing Mood Increases in cerebral blood flow

Changes in brain neurotransmitters (e.g., norepinephrine, endorphins, serotonin)

Increase in maximum oxygen consumption and delivery of oxygen to cerebral tissue

Reductions in muscle tension

Structural changes in the brain Physiological Explanation Enhanced feeling of control

Feeling of competency and self-efficacy

Positive social interactions

Improved self-concept and self-esteem

Opportunities for fun and enjoyment Psychological Explanation Exercise is related to participants’ self-concept, self-esteem, and self-efficacy (Fox, 1997)

Regular exercise is related to increased self-esteem

Esteem-enhancement effects of exercise are especially pronounced in people with low self-esteem

Positive changes in self-concept and self-esteem were associated with participation in physical education and directed play (Gruber, 1986)

Exercise programs designed to enhance self-esteem should emphasize experiences of success, feeling of increased physical competence, and attainment of goals Development of the Self Cognitive Functioning Quality of Life Exercise programs conducted over long periods are associated with moderate gains in cognitive functioning

Acute exercise increased cognitive functioning in the form of working memory for people low in working memory Effects were largest for those tasks involving executive control (e.g., planning scheduling, working memory, task coordination)

Fitness training combined with strength and flexibility programs have a greater positive effect on cognition than fitness training having only an aerobic component

Effects appear to occur more in females than in males

Effects on cognition were largest when exercise training exceeded 30 minutes per session

From a physiological perspective, cardiovascular exercise appears to protect the brain against the normal effects of aging and help repair or restore the aged brain Older Adults A person’s behavioral functioning ability—being able to do everyday stuff and living long enough to do it produces small increases in total sleep time
increases levels of self-esteem and self-concept
increases feelings of enjoyment
decreases feelings of physiological/psychological stress
increases feelings of self-confidence
elevates mood states
decreases levels of anxiety and depression Runner's High
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