Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Exercise does a body -- and a mind -- good

Date:
September 25, 2012
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
We've heard it time and time again: exercise is good for us. And it's not just good for physical health -- research shows that daily physical activity can also boost our mental health. But what actually explains the association between exercise and mental health? Is the link physiological? Psychological? Both? A new article explores whether certain psychosocial factors may help to explain the benefits of daily physical activity for adolescents' mental health.

We've heard it time and time again: exercise is good for us. And it's not just good for physical health -- research shows that daily physical activity can also boost our mental health. But what actually accounts for the association between exercise and mental health?

A new article in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, explores whether certain psychosocial factors may help to explain the benefits of daily physical activity for adolescents' mental health.

Karin Monshouwer of the Trimbos Institute in the Netherlands and colleagues at Trimbos and VU University Medical Center specifically wanted to examine two existing explanations for the link between exercise and mental health. The self-image hypothesis suggests that physical activity has positive effects on body weight and body structure, leading to positive feedback from peers and improved self-image, and ultimately improving mental health. The social interaction hypothesis, on the other hand, holds that it's the social aspects of physical activity -- such as social relationships and mutual support among team members -- that contribute to the positive effects of exercise on mental health.

Monshouwer and her colleagues surveyed over 7000 Dutch students, ages 11 to 16. The adolescents completed validated surveys aimed at assessing their physical activity, mental health problems, body weight perception, and participation in organized sports. The researchers also gathered data on the adolescents' age, gender, and socioeconomic status; whether they lived at home with their parents; and whether they lived in an urban area.

The researchers found that adolescents who were physically inactive or who perceived their bodies as either "too fat" or "too thin" were at greater risk for both internalizing problems (e.g., depression, anxiety) and externalizing problems (e.g., aggression, substance abuse). Adolescents who participated in organized sports, on the other hand, were at lower risk for mental health problems.

Confirming both the self-image hypothesis and the social interaction hypothesis, adolescents' body weight perception (i.e., "too heavy," "good," or "too thin") and sports club membership each partially accounted for the relationship between physical activity and mental health, even after taking adolescents' backgrounds into account.

These results suggest that certain psychosocial factors -- body image and social interaction -- may help to explain at least part of the connection between physical activity and mental health. The researchers acknowledge, however, that other factors, such as the physiological effects of exercise, are probably also at work.

"We think that these findings are important for policymakers and anyone who works in healthcare or prevention. Our findings indicate that physical activity may be one effective tool for the prevention of mental health problems in adolescence," says Monshouwer.

Monshouwer and her colleagues hope that future studies will be able to examine similar questions while following participants over time. Such longitudinal studies could help researchers to understand how physical activity type and context might influence the relationship between exercise and mental health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Exercise does a body -- and a mind -- good." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925171454.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2012, September 25). Exercise does a body -- and a mind -- good. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925171454.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Exercise does a body -- and a mind -- good." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120925171454.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins