Exercise & Mental Health
The National Institute of Mental Health recognizes exercise
as a valid treatment for anxiety and depression. Levels of neurotransmitters
such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are higher in
those who exercise. These, in turn, may elevate mood, reduce
depression, and improve mental focus. Exercise or physical activity
assists the psycho-physiological adaptation of emotional stress.
Weight training, in particular, has shown to raise body image
and global self-esteem. Exercise has been shown to improve mental
function and is speculated to enhance creativity and problem
solving ability. Exercise can be seen as one of the components
essential for physical and mental health in today's society.
Importance of Recess in School
Surveys and studies
indicate multiple trend toward recess:
- Reducing recess to accommodate additional time for academic
- Withdrawal of recess for punitive or behavioral reasons.
- Decreased recess time as student ages
- Less abundant recess among children in urban settings and
of lower socioeconomical status.
American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement
stating that recess should not be withheld for punitive or academic
reasons since it is a crucial and necessary component of a child's
development. Just as physical education and physical fitness
have well recognized benefits, recess offers its own unique benefits
and is complementary to physical fitness - not a substitute for
it. Recess offers both cognitive, social, emotional, and physical
benefits. For example, periodic recesses have been shown to make
children more attentive and more productive in the classroom.
It also offers a necessary break from the academic challenges
and rigors of concentration. Also see PE
Cutbacks and Risks are Essential for
American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on School Health
(2013). The Crucial Role of Recess in School. Pediatrics. 131(1):
Positive Peer Pressure
Not all peer pressure
is bad thing. Giving in to group pressure can be beneficial,
particularly when you purposely join a group or exercise with
a training partner with similar goals as yours. Positive peer
pressure can be used to introduce and reinforce positive behaviors
until they become a normal part of your life.
Salvy SJ et al (2007) questioned 10 boys and 10 girls between
ages 12 and 14 for one week about their activities and whether
they were alone or with others. The presence of peers turned
out to be the only significant predictor of the childrens
activity intensity. Overweight children reported greater physical
activity when in the presence of peers as compared to lean children.
Unfortunately, overweight children also reported more time spent
Salvy SJ, Bowker JW, Roemmich JN, Romero N, Kieffer E,
Paluch R, Epsein LH (2008). Peer Influence on Children's Physical
Activity: An Experience Sampling Study. J Pediatr Psychol 33
Adherence verses Compliance
Compliance (old medical model) indicates client obeying prescription
given by professional as an authority.
Adherence (newer model) indicates client following plan arrived
at by both the professional and client as a team.
There should be a compromise between what may be recommended
for a client and what they are willing to do. Expecting a client
to do exactly what you prescribe risks alienating them to the
point of having less of a positive influence on their future
Barriers to change
- Family Responsibilities
- Lack of family support
- Lack of proper equipment
- Facilities not available
- Other people
- Pain or discomfort
- Work Responsibility
Improving Program Adherence
from a fitness program is more likely if 3 factors are characteristic
of that program are not met:
- high intense exercise is related to higher drop out rates
- length of lay off after injury may be indefinite
- Time of day
- Other obligation and goals outside of exercise must be considered
- Long workouts will have less adherence
- Some may do better with 2 or 3 days a week
- Others may prefer the routine of exercising every day
- Consistency versus flexibility
- Allow for some flexibility by planning an alternative backup
time workout due to unforeseen circumstances
- Relying too heavily on backup workout times or implementing
cheat days or extended layoffs, whether planned or unplanned,
can be problematic for many beginners who have not yet established
a regular routine.
- however, they can be helpful for those that may feel certain
behavioral goals would otherwise be too restrictive.
- More moderate or progressive changes in diet and exercise
may encourage more permanent behavioral changes.
Also see Adherence Tips and
Simplistic Behavior Change Model
- A) Antecedents: what cues precede behavior
- B) Behavior
- C) Consequences: what are the consequences
Body Dismorphic Disorder
Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD) is a compulsive obsessive ailment
characterized by a preoccupation with an imagined physical defect
in appearance or a vastly exaggerated concern about a minimal
defect. The preoccupation causes significant impairment in the
individual's life. Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 1 in 50 people.
It was once thought that you were born with a set number of
brain cells and they just decreased as you got older. Researchers
at Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered walking three
hours per week for three months increased many new neurons to
grow, causing a measurable increase to the size of the participant's
brains. The new neurons tended to grow around areas with well
established existing connection and replaced ones that were nonfunctioning.
The structure of the brain that grew the most was the hippocampus,
the area most involved with memory and cognition.
A Pereira, D Huddleston, Brickman A, et al. (2007). An
in vivo correlated of exercise-induced neurogenesis in the adult
dentate gyrus. PNAS 104(13): 5638-43.
S Colcombe, K Erickson, P Scalf, et al. (2006). Aerobic
exercise training increases brain volume in aging humans. J Geron:
Med Sci 61A(11) 1166-70.
Exercise and Dementia
Vergese (2003) found no association between physical activity
and the risk of dementia. Voluntary exercise can increase levels
of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and other growth
factors, stimulate neurogenesis, increase resistance to brain
insult, and improve learning and mental performance (Cotman 2002).
Cognitive and physical activities overlap, so it is not surprising
that previous studies have disagreed on the role of physical
activities. Although physical activities are important in promoting
overall health, its protective effect against dementia remains
Cotman CW, Berchtold NC (2002). Exercise: a behavioral
intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity. Trends Neurosci;
Verghese J, Lipton RB, Katz MJ, et al. (2003). Leisure
Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly. N Engl J
Hedonic psychology is the study of what makes experiences
and life pleasant or unpleasant. It is concerned with feelings
of pleasure and pain, of interest and boredom, of joy and sorrow,
and of satisfaction and dissatisfaction. See following studies
and paradigm theories:
Kahneman D, Diener E, & Schwarz N. (1999). Well-being:
The foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage
Foundation., p. ix