Psychological Aspects Of Physical Exercise

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Psychological Aspects of Physical Exercise

Psychological Aspects of Physical Exercise


Physical Exercise can be defined as any activity that involves the neuromuscular system and results in energy expenditure. Physical Exercise can be classified into various categories including occupational, recreational, or sports-related based on the objectives of the activity and the environment in which it takes place. All categories of physical activity have been associated with positive health outcomes in a large number of studies conducted since the 1950s. Exercise, on the other hand, is a subset of physical activity that is planned, repetitive, and structured to improve the physical and psychological health of a person. Exercise can be classified based on the nature of the muscle action involved (static [when there is no joint movement] vs. dynamic), the physiological adaptations induced (aerobic, strengthening, flexibility, or stretching), or the clinical objective of the exercise programme (Booth, 2008, 30).

How Are Psychological Health Benefits Achieved Through Physical Activity?

To accrue the mental health benefits of physical activity participation, it is not essential to improve physical fitness. This suggests that unlike the physical health benefits of physical activity, the mental health benefits are not derived solely from physiological adaptations. Currently, it is unclear exactly how physical activity leads to improved mental health, but several psychologically and physiologically based explanations have been advanced (Lox, 2006, 77).

Psychologically based explanations include the propositions that exercise creates a sense of accomplishment, provides opportunities for social interaction, and distracts attention from daily stressors, thus contributing to improved mental health. Physiologically based explanation include the hypotheses that biochemicals that enhance feelings of well-being (e.g., endorphins, certain neurotransmitters) are released into the bloodstream as a consequence of physical activity and that activity elevates core body temperature, thus promoting decreased muscle tension and improving sleep quality (Frontera, 2007, 49). Individually, none of these explanations can fully account for the positive effects of physical activity on mental well-being. It is likely, however, that a combination of psychological and physiological mechanisms accounts for the effects.

Of course, many people think that an ER physician should treat the heart attack of an elderly grandmother. But, does knowledge of this woman's affinity for fried foods, lifelong smoking habit, or development of obesity-related Type II diabetes sway opinions of how much money is spent to save her life or attempt to rehabilitate her back to health? These dilemmas force society to consider who is responsible for the state of an individual's health and who will fund her care. The health-care crisis is complex and there are no easy solutions to it. Ethical issues concerning individual lifestyle behaviors, personal rights, or entitlement to health care frequently collide with health-care accessibility and affordability. The field of health psychology will likely play a role in any solution to current and future health care challenges.

In 1978, the British Psychological Association formed Division 38, “Health Psychology,” to facilitate collaboration between psychologists and other health professionals interested in the psychological and behavioral aspects of mental and physical ...
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