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The effects of exercise on mental health

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Introduction

Contents Introduction and Plan Page 3 Review of Literature Page 4 Discussions and Conclusions Page 6 Appraisal of study Page 8 Bibliography Page 9 Appendices and my study Page 10 The effects of exercise on mental health "A simple exercise routine can have a major impact not only on health but also mood and overall daily life." (L Brightwell; www.laurafreberg.com) The area of focus for this study will be the effect of exercise on mood and mental health. Although there are no doubts that by exercising you benefit physically, not as much research has been done into how exercise affects us mentally and why it does this. A lot of people take part in physical activity to let anger out and alleviate stress, but does this actually work? The short-term effects of exercise are clear - when you exercise, endorphins are released, which improves your mood. There is also research that mainly suggests that if you are depressed or have some other mental illness, by doing exercise you are more likely to recover. However, from reading about different studies, I know that it's unclear whether there is a change in your mental health if you are already mentally healthy and you partake in physical activity, so I will focus mainly on this. I plan on looking at relevant research into the effects of exercise on mental health, in order to know what other studies have concluded and to know what experiments have and haven't done. ...read more.

Middle

Camacho et al found that people who are physically active and exercise regularly are less likely to be diagnosed with depression. They found that in the first 9 years the relative risk (RR) of developing depression was significantly greater for both men and women who were not very active in 1965 (RR 1.8 for men, 1.7 for women) compared to those who were highly active. (Camacho and Colleagues, USA 1991) However, other research has suggested otherwise. Brown et al found that there were very little effects of exercise on mood. Hughes, Casal and Leon found that exercise didn't improve anger, anxiety, fatigue or total mood disturbance at all. (Source: www.uregina.ca/arts/psychology) The literature here suggests that exercise reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with mental health problems. However, although there is more evidence to suggest that exercising improves the mood of mentally fit people, the results are still mainly unclear - but there is no evidence to suggest that exercise worsens your mood. In my study (see appendices), I designed a questionnaire about the effects of exercise on mood. My participants were fifty people - male and female, and of all ages. Some of my participants did no exercise at all, whereas others did exercise more than five times a week. The questions were all designed to find information about the participant, how much exercise they did and what type it was, and how exercise made them feel. ...read more.

Conclusion

Firstly, some of the participants may not have told the truth in the questionnaire, either because they didn't want people to know how they felt, or they have different self-perceptions to everyone else. I tried to make the questionnaire as confidential as possible, by asking participants to put their completed questionnaire into an envelope with the other completed ones. Also, I had a small sample size of only 50 people, and how they feel may not represent the rest of the population - although I tried to get my sample group as varied as possible, e.g. different genders, ages and incomes. My experiment sample was based more in the countryside, where there is a slower pace of life. This is unlike the city, which is fast-paced and possibly more stressful; therefore I could have got completely different results there. Another point is that some of the literature that I wrote about was quite old, and the same results then may not apply now. Because my study choice was original and there is very little research on the effects of exercise on the mentally fit, I have nothing to compare my study to. If I had to redo my research project, I would try and get the same amount of people for each amount of exercising per week for my questionnaire, as I think this would make my results more accurate. If I had more time, I could also look at a bigger sample group because this would make my results more reliable. For further research, I could look into why exercise affects mood in the long-term. ...read more.

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