Chapter 8Psychological well-being -does physical activity make us feel good?
“Running and worrying don’t mix”(Glasser 1976)
“Exercise dissipates tension, and tension is the enemy of serenity” (Mandela 1994)Chapter 8: Aims
- highlight the concept of health-related quality of life and how it is typically measured
- review the evidence linking physical activity and exercise with measures of mood and affect
- highlight the definitional problems associated with the construct of enjoyment in exercise and present four approaches to the study of enjoyment in physical activity
- comment on the psychological effects of depriving people of exercise
- provide evidence on factors moderating the relationship between exercise and mood/affect
- summarise the evidence linking physical activity with the development and enhancement of self-esteem and physical self-perceptions
- comment on studies investigating the links between exercise and cognitive functioning, and exercise and personality/psychological adjustment
- briefly highlight results from meta-analyses on the effect of exercise on sleep
- discuss how physical activity and exercise may provide benefits for women experiencing menstruation, pregnancy or menopause
(-) Activation (+)
(-) Valence (+)
The circumplex model of affect proposed by Russell (1980).
Test to exhaustion
(-) Perceived Activation (+)
(-) Affective Valence (+)
Affective responses to two bouts of physical activity, plotted in circumplex space. (Ekkekakis 2003)
VT =Ventilatory threshold
Effect sizes from McDonald and Hodgdon’s (1991)
meta-analysis of aerobic fitness training and mood states.
Effect sizes for experimental studies investigating
exercise and affective (‘mood’) states in older adults
(Arent, Landers, and Etnier 2000)
Type of PA
Intra-individual variability in affective responses
to different exercise stimuli (Ekkekakis et al. 2005
Study 1: 10 minute self-paced walk
Study 2: 15 minutes self-paced walk
Study 3: 30 mintues of cycling at 60% max oxygen consumption
Study 4: Incremental tread mill running to exhaustion
Study 5: Cycling to exhaustion under conditions of dehydration
Csikzentmihalyi’s model of ‘flow’(1975)
A). Motivational approach
SE OR PSW
SE & PSW
‘Motivational’ approach to self-esteem (Sonstroem 1997a, 1997b)
B). Personal development approach
SE & PSW
‘self-enhancement’ approach to self-esteem (Sonstroem 1997a, 1997b)
SE & PSW
Effect sizes for exercise
and self-esteem in adults (Spence, McGannon, & Poon, 2005)
Aerobic exercise increased self-esteem
Asci 2003Figure 8.10Mean scores for perceptions of coping assets over the course of pregnancy (Rankin, 2002)Box 8.1: Can physical activity reduce anti-social behaviour?
Table 8.1. Defining features of affect, emotion and mood.
- Governments make much of sport, exercise and physical activity as a ‘social good’, including the belief that involvement can help with the social ills of society such as crime and anti-social behaviour. Can it?
- Politicians often argue that sport is a viable way of creating positive moral and social behaviour (Biddle 2005). While professional and spectator sport, in particular, can also be associated with undesirable behaviours, most people involved in sport believe that positive behavioural outcomes are possible and should be sought (Chang et al., 2004).
- Mutrie and Parfitt (1998) reviewed 8 papers investigating sport involvement for young people and delinquency. They concluded that “there is equivocal evidence about the relationship between involvement in sport and anti-social behaviour” (p. 61).
- Similarly, Coalter’s (2005) review concluded that “because of a widespread lack of robust, cumulative, and comparative research data it is very difficult to be precise about the relationship between sports participation and reduced anti-social behaviour and crime” (p. 205). He goes on to conclude “taking the balance of probabilities”:
- “the most effective use of sport to address systematically anti-social behaviour and criminal behaviour is in combination with programs that seek to address wider personal and social development
- Sports’ salience can be used to attract young people to integrated programs that offer formal programs in personal development, health awareness, and employment training
- Leadership is perhaps the most important element in determining the positive impact of a program
- Locally recruited leaders and a bottom-up approach maximize the chances of success” (Coalter, 2005, pp. 205-206).
Table 8.2 i ( dimensional) A summary of categorical and dimensional measures of mood and affect commonly used in physical activity research.
Table 8.2 (ii dimensional) A summary of categorical and dimensional measures of mood and affect commonly used in physical activity research.
Table 8.2 (iii categorical) A summary of categorical and dimensional measures of mood and affect commonly used in physical activity research.
Table 8.3(i) Summary of findings from British population surveys investigating the relationship between physical activity and psychological well-being.
Table 8.3 (ii). Summary of findings from British population surveys investigating the relationship between physical activity and psychological well-being.
Table 8.4. Affective responses to varying levels of exercise intensity, proposed by Ekkekakis and colleagues (Biddle & Ekkekakis, 2005; Ekkekakis, 2003).Table 8.5. Example items from the 20-item Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale (PACES) (Kendzierski & DeCarlo, 1991).
All items are rated on a 7-point scale anchored by statements, such as those shown. The instructions state “please rate how you feel at the moment about the physical activity you have been doing”.Menstruation
- Interventions have shown positive effects from regular exercise on both dysmenorrhea, and pre-menstrual syndrome
- Cross-sectional studies suggest that regular exercise may protect women from a deterioration in mood pre-menstrually
- PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MAY HAVE A ROLE IN PROMOTING POSITIVE MOODS AT KEY POINTS IN THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
- Many of the key issues of menopause could be addressed by exercise-
- Increased risk of CVD
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
- Possible decrease in positive mood and self-esteem
- Large scale surveys show negative relationships between high levels of activity and vasomotor symptoms and a positive relationship between high levels of activity and quality of life
- Little experimental evidence available
- PHYSICAL ACTIVITY MAY BE BENEFICIAL FOR WOMEN WHO ARE EXPERIENCING MENOPAUSE
- Defining the key terms of affect, mood and emotion is not easy, but we should provide working definitions in research projects and not assume they are one and the same.
- For example affect can be a component of emotion (or mood)- pride feels pleasant while being ashamed feels unpleasant
- How you measure affective responses to exercise will depend on the research question.
- Evidence points to beneficial affective changes with exercise, but this relationship is influenced by the intensity of exercise.
- Empirical evidence and intuition tell us that enjoyment is important for exercise motivation. However, the contruct of enjoyment has been poorly understood.
- The belief that exercise improves self-esteem is too simplistic. Exercise can enhance self-esteem, and this is likely due to changes in physical self-perceptions.
- Physical activity may have a role in promoting positive moods at key points in the menstrual cycle.
- Physical activity may help pregnant women maintain pre-pregnancy levels of psychological well-being and should be explored as a means to prevent and treat post-natal depression.
- Physical activity may be beneficial for women who are experiencing menopause.
Chapter 8: Conclusions
- ‘Fit’ is a feminist issue and exercise psychologists must explore how to promote motivations for exercise that will help women remain active throughout the life course.
- exercise and physical activity participation is consistently associated with positive mood and affect
- quantified trends show that aerobic exercise has small-to-moderate positive effects on vigour, and small-to-moderate negative effects for fatigue, confusion, depression, anger and tension
- experimental trials support the effect of moderate exercise on psychological well-being
- exercise is related to positive changes in self-esteem and related physical self-perceptions
- exercise can have a positive effect on personality and psychological adjustment
- small effects suggest that individuals who exercise fall asleep faster, and sleep longer and deeper than those not exercising
- exercise can have positive benefits for women’s experiences of menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.