Exercise

A Stress Management Tool for Mental Health and Learning

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Mental Health

  • Exercise improves
    • Mental Health
    • Emotion
    • Mood
  • The National Institute of Mental Health
    • Recognizes exercise as a valid treatment for anxiety and depression.
  • Exercise is self-empowering
    • Bring responsibility toward self
  • Positive addiction
    • May replace negative addictions
  • We don't know (Landers)
    • Optimal intensity or duration
    • Optimal mode
    • Dose/response curve
    • Time course (acute)
  • Law of initial values
    • Relative values - ceiling effect
    • Lower initial value - greater potential for improvement
    • Unfit, anxious, depressed - greater improvements
  • Exercises' effect on emotion
    • Fit vs unfit - lower anxiety for fit
    • Chronically trained / adaptation - lower anxiety
    • Acute bout of activity - lower anxiety

Exercise and Mental Health Theories

  • Hatfield 1991, Dienstbier 1989, McCubbin 1992, Crews 1987, deVries 1968, deVries 1972, Horne 1984
  • Time out
  • Master environment
  • Body image
    • Dramatic effects in weight training studies
  • Biochemical
    • Norepinephrine, Epinephrine
      • Prolonged stimulation -> ACTH -> Cortisol
    • Dopamine, Serotonin, ß-Endorphine, Enkephalins
  • Thermogenic (Body Temperature)
    • Synchronized Cortical Activity (EEG)
    • Decrease muscle spindle activity
    • Stimulates Serotonin
    • Increase in slow wave sleep (Deep sleep)
      • High intense exercise
      • Passive heating
  • Toughening
    • Exercise conditions us to better cope with stressors
    • psychologically and biochemically

Exercise May Improve Mental Functioning

  • Learning & Catecholamines (Dienstbier 1989)
    • Many studies demonstrate that better students have higher levels of Catecholamines (Norepinephrine, Epinephrine)
    • Animal & human catecholamines studies (McGaugh 1983)
      • When peripheral catecholamines are depleted through drug manipulations, retention of learning is adversely affected
  • Acute mental benefits of exercise (Tomporowski 1986, McGlynn 1979)
    • Exercise performed before the mental task
      • May improve performance
      • Mixed Findings
    • Facilitation of mental performance
      • Moderate intensity
      • During or immediately following exercise
      • Greater effect for fitter subjects


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