While the research of Blumenthal et al. (2007) focused on exercise being effective in reducing self-reported depressive symptoms, Diaz and Motta (2008) and Motta, Kuligowski, and Marino (2010) looked at the positive effects of exercise on depression, anxiety and PTSD. The theory of exercise’s positive effect on mental health has heavily been focused on…show more content…
However, Diaz and Motta focused their study on adolescent participants and on PTSD. For this study, participants were between the ages of 14 and 17 and were all female from a residential treatment facility that met the criteria for PTSD (Diaz & Motta, 2008). The researchers used the following self-report inventories to measure the level of PTSD: (a) Child PTSD Symptom Scale [CPSS] (Foa, Johnson, Feeny, & Treadwell, 2001), (b) Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children [TSCC] (Briere, 1996), (c) Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children [MASC] (March, 1997), (d) Children’s Depression Inventory [CDI] (Kovacs, 1992) (Diaz & Motta, 2008). Libby, Pilver & Desai (2012) also conducted a study looking at PTSD but focused their attention on a global effect of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) on the mental health issue. The researchers finalized 599 participants whose information was gathered through the following instruments: (a) National Comorbidity Survey-Replication [NCS-R] (Kessler et al., 2004), (b) National Latino and Asian American Survey [NLAAS] (Algeria et al., 2004), (c) National Survey of American Life [NSAL] (Jackson, Neighbors, Nesse, Trierweiler, & Torres, 2004) (Libby, Pilver, & Desai 2012). Motta, Kuligowski, and Marino (2010) reviewed the trends in literature on how exercise plays a role in reducing symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety in children. The researchers look at the literature on anxiety, depression Exercise And Mental Health Essay

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Essay Paper on The Psychological Benefits of Exercise
Numerous studies show that people who exercise live longer, have healthier bodies, and are in a more positive psychological state than those who don’t.

Exercise may offer substantial potential alone or as an adjunct in improving the mental well being of many individuals. There are five important benefits that are associated with the potential use of exercise in such a role. First, exercise is cheap. Second, exercise carries negligible deleterious side effects. Third, exercise can be self-sustaining in that the individual can maintain it once the basic skills have been learnt. In some countries, the evidence for exercise and mental health has already been accepted and formalized into delivery systems. In Belgium, for instance, psychomotor therapy to treat depression and anxiety is now established in the health system.

For the vast majority of the public who are the likely targets of exercise -based interventions in health care, the positive relationships seem to hold firm, particularly with increasing age. Those who are involved in sport or exercise generally have a higher level of physical self-perceptions, including physical self-worth and body image and there is a tendency for them also to have higher self-esteem than their age-group peers.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

Exercise is an excellent aid in managing depression. Even though exercise is often prescribed as a form of stress management today, it is clear that too much exercise can be detrimental. A moderate amount of exercise usually energizes you. Intense and extended exercise does not increase energy, at least not right afterwards. It uses up your energy and leaves you feeling exhausted. An example of excessive exercise comes from the overtraining of athletes, which can result not only in various physical disabilities but in pervasive fatigue and mood disorders. Being able to decide what is enough exercise, not too little or too much, is a key to coping with stress. What is appropriate is specific to you and depends on your goals and energy level.

The fact that physical activity creates feelings of pleasure makes sense when you realize that energy increases with exercise, especially moderate exercise. Energy feels good, and exercise is one of the most reliable producers of this pleasurable feeling. Exercise is also pleasurable because it reduces tension and anxiety. Enjoyable exercise experiences help you feel better about yourself in many different ways. Being fit contributes to your emotional wellness and ability to cope with stress. It also increases your mental vitality as well as your physical stamina to better meet life’s challenges.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

Negative moods usually involve low energy, or too much tension for the energy available. When your energy is low, you are too tired to exercise. It doesn’t matter that exercise will relieve your tiredness and ultimately give you more energy.It is sometimes necessary to make the cognitive connection between exercise and elevated mood in order to motivate yourself to begin exercising. Still another way that exercise yields pleasure, but that most people do not think about, has to do with stress management. If we can control the negative effects of stress, we will feel pleasure. A sizable scientific literature shows that exercise seems to inoculate us against stress.

Even a moderate amount of physical activity, such as a daily dose of 30 minutes of brisk walking or 15 minutes of running, will help keep you well. More vigorous pursuits (including both endurance and strength-enhancing endeavors) result in greater health benefits. From the majority of studies that have been done on exercise and self-esteem, it appears that people rate themselves more positively when they exercise. Related to self-esteem is something called self-efficacy, or the belief that you can be successful at any particular task. Exercise strengthens self-efficacy, especially in relation to physical capabilities. Psychological well-being is still another characteristic that is strengthened by exercise…Exercise And Mental Health Essay

Some hypothesize that moderate levels of exercise will decrease the symptoms of mental health conditions (Blumenthal et al., 2007; Diaz & Motta, 2008; Motta, Kuligowski, & Marino, 2010; Rosenbaum, Nguyen, Lenehan, Tiedemann, van der Ploeg, & Sherrington, 2011) and therefore be used as an alternative or complimentary treatment option for mental health (Libby, Pilver, & Desai, 2012).
While the research of Blumenthal et al. (2007) focused on exercise being effective in reducing self-reported depressive symptoms, Diaz and Motta (2008) and Motta, Kuligowski, and Marino (2010) looked at the positive effects of exercise on depression, anxiety and PTSD. The theory of exercise’s positive effect on mental health has heavily been focused on depression and anxiety, but PTSD is becoming a newer area of research as it contains not only depressive and anxiety based symptoms as well as other symptoms. Libby, Pilver, and Desai (2012) and Blumenthal focused their studies specifically on PTSD.
Blumenthal et al. (2007) and Diaz and Motta (2008) conducted empirical studies to prove their hypotheses about the relationship of exercise and mental health. Blumenthal et al. looked at a sample size of 202 adults over the age of 40 and randomly assigned them to one of four groups: (a) group exercise setting, (b) home based exercise group, (c) sertraline group, or (d) placebo group. The participants who were assigned to the exercise groups participated in a 16 week moderate exercise program. The other two groups either received sertraline or a placebo pill. All participants were assessed before, during, and after using the Becks Depression Inventory II [BDI] (Beck, Sheer, & Brown, 1996) and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale Exercise And Mental Health Essay

People know that exercise can improve physical health. Exercise is regularly recommended by medical professionals to improve diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. But exercise is not commonly a significant part of a treatment regimen for people who suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

Most people in the general population understand that regular exercise is beneficial to physical health. Now, new research suggests that it has equally important mental health benefits.

“The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong,” says Michael Otto, PhD, and professor of psychology at Boston University, in this monthsMonitor on Psychology. In the October 2011 issue of The American Psychologist, Roger Walsh describes exercise as healthy, inexpensiveand underused to treat psychiatric disorders.

Unhealthy lifestyles can contribute to an array of physical problems and can play can an equally important role your mental health and maintaining a sense of well-being. Otto likens failing to exercise when you’re feeling bad to “explicitly not taking an aspirin when your head hurts.”Exercise And Mental Health Essay

Below I summarize, some recent findings on how exercise impacts mental health.

Mental Health Benefits of Exercise

Exercise offers preventative and therapeutic psychological benefits. It can reduce the risk of depression and chronic pain, as well as neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Walsh’s review of the literature found that depression, anxiety, eating addictive disorders and body dysmorphic disorders are all responsive to exercise as an adjunct to treatment. Even some symptoms of schizophrenia can improve with exercise.

Depression is the most studied mental health disorder in relation to exercise, but new studies are finding similar psychological benefits of exercise in the treatment of anxiety.In fact, in one study exercise was generally comparable to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder, while participants in a two-week exercise program showed significant improvements in anxiety sensitivity.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

How does exercise effect the brain?

One theory is that exercise increases serotonin(a neurotransmitter targeted by antidepressants)levels. A second theory suggests exercise helps improve sleep. With better sleep, mood improves.

Other possible effects of exercise on the brain and mental functioning include the release of endorphins in the body (Endorphins are a chemical in the brain associated with positive mood); the break down of muscle tension through exercise can improve sleep and decrease physical pain and discomfort associated with depression; improvements in self-esteem, a feeling of accomplishment and feelings of self-worth; and an interruption of cycles of negative thoughts and rumination.

What type of exercise proves a valuable adjunct to medication and therapy?

Researchers are not yet clear on which types of exercise are most effective for which people. Aerobic exercise has been the focus of most studies, but weight training may have equally beneficial results. Yoga and other mind-body exercises have been around for centuries but have not yet been thoroughly studied. In general, studies have found higher intensity workouts tend to be more effective, although lower intensity still have benefits. However, these results are shown to vary, depending on both gender and family history of mental illness.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

If exercise makes me feel good, why can’t I get off the couch?

You may be starting out too hard. When you start a new exercise program and exercise so hard that during exercise you find it hard to talk you can postpone the mental health benefits (mood boost) as much as 30 minutes-enough time to make many people give up exercise for good. Otto also blames a “national apathy to activity.” He says that the months of waiting for the physical results of exercise to become apparent can be a “recipe for failure.” Instead, Otto recommends attending to the mood boost that accompanies exercise, which is a much more immediate gratification.

Given the low risk of side effects and the substantial positive effects, it is an important option to consider when you are looking to improve your mental well-being.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

The physical benefits of exercise has been the main motivating factor for many people who adopt a regular physical fitness program. Physicians have long known the benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet, although weight loss or weight management has been a major influence for people who begin a regular exercise program. Many more people, however, are directed by their own physician to become physically active or risk disease and/or possibly death. Regular physical exercise has proven beneficial to cardiovascular health by controlling diabetes, slowing the progression of osteoporosis, lowering high blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, as well as decreasing the chances of contracting cold’s and flu. While these factors alone are sufficient reasons for a life-long commitment to physical exercise, further developments have been realized in the psychological benefits of exercise. Could exercise possibly have an effect on emotional health and if so what are they? Research has shown that regular exercise provides psychological benefits, which include positive effects on memory and thinking, anxiety and depression, overall emotional well-being, creativity and imagination, and improved mental vigor.Exercise And Mental Health Essay
Probably the most known benefit of exercise to the human body is the improvements of cardiovascular health. The heart is a muscle that becomes stronger and larger with exercise, enabling it to pump blood through the body more efficiently. Exercise has also been shown to cause the development of new blood vessels in the heart and enlarges the arteries that supply
blood to the heart (Landry 1). A healthy diet and regular exercise can also improve cholesterol levels:
People who maintain an active lifestyle have a 45% lower risk of developing coronary heart disease than do sedentary people. A recent study reported that moderate dietary

What are the mental health benefits of exercise?
Exercise is not just about aerobic capacity and muscle size. Sure, exercise can improve your physical health and your physique, trim your waistline, improve your sex life, and even add years to your life. But that’s not what motivates most people to stay active.

People who exercise regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. And it’s also powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits. Research indicates that modest amounts of exercise can make a difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better.

Exercise and depression
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication—but without the side-effects, of course. As one example, a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most importantly, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity patterns that promote feelings of calm and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also serve as a distraction, allowing you to find some quiet time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.

Exercise and anxiety
Exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

Try to notice the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, for example, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin. By adding this mindfulness element—really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise—you’ll not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to interrupt the flow of constant worries running through your head.


Exercise and stress
Ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles may be tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, heartburn, stomachache, diarrhea, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.Exercise And Mental Health Essay

Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.

Exercise and ADHD
Exercising regularly is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the symptoms of ADHD and improve concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works in much the same way as ADHD medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.

Exercise and PTSD and trauma
Evidence suggests that by really focusing on your body and how it feels as you exercise, you can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response that characterizes PTSD or trauma. Instead of allowing your mind to wander, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs—such as walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight training, or dancing—are some of your best choices.

Outdoor activities like hiking, sailing, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing (downhill and cross-country) have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD. Exercise And Mental Health Essay

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