The Effects of Physical Activity on Mental Health

The Effects of Physical Activity on Mental Health
HEA 201, Health Research
Mount Wachusett Community College
Aim
There are many people that suffer from mental health issues, which can range from mild to severe, incorporating physical activity into their day has been shown to have a positive impact on their mental well-being. In recent years, many individuals have become more open with the idea of normalizing discussion surrounding mental illness and how it affects so many. Physical activity has been shown to help with managing mental health issues, like anxiety and depression. (Ensari et al., 2015) Physical activity can be used as additional treatment or a different form of treatment for mental health issues. (Malcom et al., 2013) Many of the studies that have already been conducted on this topic have data that was collected over short periods of time. In order to get data that will prove that physical activity can help manage mental health issue symptoms the research will have to be conducted over a longer period of time.
Familiarity
Understanding whether or not there is a correlation between the state of an individual’s mental well-being and how physically activity they are. Incorporating daily physical activity into someone’s lifestyle could help with mental health issue symptoms.
Review of Literature
In people that suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and depression, there are many ways that symptoms of these mental issues can be improved. There could be improvements of the individual’s mental health in those who increase their physical activity and/or exercise.
Malcom et al (2013), conducted a cohort study to examine the link between exercise and the mental well-being of individuals (N=2,663). From previous research, there has been clear that physical activity has some sort of positive effect on people that have mental health issues, whether that be anxiety, depression, etc. In this particular study, the level of exercise varied, for some it was light exercise and others had more vigorous physical activity. (Malcom et al., 2013) At the three-month follow-up (N=531), not all initial participants responded but overall had improvements to their mental health. There were clear changes in the participants at the baseline compared to the 3 months follow up. There were changes in well-being (p =p =0.0001). (Malcom et al., 2013) In this particular study, the level of exercise varied, for some it was light exercise and others had more vigorous physical activity. At the 3 months follow up it was clear that exercise had positive effects are their mental health. Participants that stuck with the exercise were more likely to talk about their mental health problems with friends and family. (Malcom et al., 2013) Malcom et al (2013), suggest longer follow up period for later research would be beneficial as well as other specifics, including type of exercise and intensity of exercises.
Ensari et al (2015), conducted a meta-analysis of multiple studies that has similar criteria. The meta-analysis was to see the effects of exercise on anxiety using 36 randomized controlled trials (N=1,233). (Ensari et al., 2015) Acute exercise sessions made small improvements to anxiety symptoms in the overall sample compared to the controlled group. (Ensari et al., 2015) The estimation of the clinical importance of the overall effect size was determined by the success/failure rate of acute exercise on anxiety symptoms due to the authors not being able to record the baseline anxiety levels in participants. (Ensari et al., 2015) Ensari et al (2015), was able to conclude 54% chance of success and 46% chance of failure. The overall weighted mean of the effect size was 0.16 and p-value with high statistical significance (p = Tyson et al (2010), conducted a cohort study on undergraduate university students (N=100) to see if there was any correlation between physical activity and mental health. Participants in the high level of physical activity group (pp>0.05). (Tyson et al., 2010) This allows us to conclude that physical activity has an impact on the mental health of these undergraduate students. There also is not a cause and effect relationship between physical activity and mental health. (Tyson et al., 2010)
Tyson et al (2010), suggested that in future research that the prevalence of mental health issues in male and females separately should be considered as well as if physical activity affects the mental health of individuals more in females and males.
Rationale
The purpose of this research is to explore the idea that regular physical activity could improve an individuals’ mental well-being if they suffer from common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. In individuals that suffer from common mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, does incorporating physical activity into their lifestyle have an impact on their mental well-being?
Study Design
In this case, a mixed methods research design would be the most beneficial to see if there is any correlation between physical activity and mental well-being. Participants will consist of those who are suffering from common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. The participants’ mental health issues may vary from minor or severe. There will be a population of a hundred to a hundred and fifty participants. They will document the physical activity they took part in and how they feel their mental health is that day. The research will take place over six months.
The purpose of this research is to explore the idea that regular physical activity could improve an individual’s well-being if they suffer from common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. To understand the data collected the participants will have intake questions at the beginning then follow-up questions at the end of the study. Along with these questions’ participants will do weekly intakes.
Data Analysis
The purpose of this research is to explore the idea that regular physical activity could improve an individual’s well-being if they suffer from common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. In order to understand the data collected the participants will have intake questions at the beginning then follow-up questions at the end of the study. Along with these questions’ participants will do weekly intakes.
To conclude whether or not physical activity will correlate with an individual’s overall mental well-being, there needs to be data to compare. In order to see whether or not physical activity had a positive impact on the participants’ mental health in multiple studies, p values can be compared meaning correlational analysis also occurred. (Tyson et al., 2010) In another study, the authors made conclusions by determining if it was successful or a failure then were able to conclude the overall success versus failure rate of the study. (Ensari et al., 2015) In this study, the goal is to determine the relationship between two variables, physical activity and exercise. Using a statistical method such as person coefficient, will be able to display the correlation between these two variables.
Data will be collected from a random group of individuals that are of all ages and genders but all have mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Mental health issues can vary in severity. Over the course of six months, participants will engage in a minimum of at least sixty minutes of exercise at least five times a week. The type and intensity of the exercise will be up to the participants to choose.
Ethical Considerations
Participation in the study is voluntary and all participants will be given an informed consent form which they will be required to sign in order to participate. In this study, the risks to participants are little to none, the worst that could happen is the participants mental health doesn’t benefit from the physical activity. The participants’, as well as others that suffer from mental health issues, will benefit from this study. If physical activity does have a positive impact on an individual’s mental health, this information can be used to help others with their mental health struggles.
Logistics
Limitations of this study would consist of population size as well as the mental health aspect as its self. Future studies would benefit from a larger population size in order to make it generalizable to a larger population. Mental health isn’t easily measured so another limitation would be how severe participants’ mental health issues are as well as if they were diagnosed by a medical doctor or self-diagnosed. Another limitation would be the amount of time that was allowed for data collection. In future research, data should be collected over longer periods of time. Lastly, the limitation of the type of exercise and how intense should be recorded. In this study, participants have control over the type of exercise they take part in which lowers the cost of the study. The cost would increase if all participants were all put in a particular exercise program which could occur in later studies. The overall cost of the study will be minimal due to factors including, participants are volunteering as well as determining their exercise as long as the duration is sixty minutes and occurs five times a week. A notebook for participants to record all information needed for the study will be provided.
Expected Outcomes
If the findings of this research do show that there is a correlation between the state of an individual’s mental well-being and how physically activity they are, then future research can be done on specific groups of people. Future research can explore how physical exercise can improve a women’s mental well-being versus a man’s well-being. The intensity and type of exercise can be researched further as well as the participants’ age.
If the study results in there being a strong correlation between physical activity and the state of an individual’s mental well-being, this can be used to assist people with these issues. Instead of medication to relieve symptoms of mental health problems, physical activity could potentially be a good alternative. Ensari et al (2015), conducted a meta-analysis of multiple studies that were all similar which found that overall there was a correlation between physical activity and mental health. Knowledge of previous studies, including the meta-analysis conducted by Ensari et al (2015), allows future studies to build onto the knowledge we already have on the topic.
References
Ensari, I., Greenlee, T. A., Motl, R. W., & Petruzzello, S. J. (2015). Meta-Analysis of Acute Exercise Effects on State Anxiety: An Update of Randomized Controlled Trials over the past 25 Years. Depression & Anxiety (1091-4269), 32(8), 624-634. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.22370
Malcolm, E., Evans-Lacko, S., Little, K., Henderson, C., & Thornicroft, G. (2013). The impact of exercise projects to promote mental wellbeing. Journal of Mental Health, 22(6), %19-527. https://doi.org/10.3109/09638237.2013.841874
Tyson, P., Wilson, K., Crone, D., Brailsford, R., & Laws, K. (2010). Physical activity and mental health in a student population. Journal of Mental Health, 19(6), 492-499. https://doi.org/10.3109/09638230902968308

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