Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being

Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being

Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being

Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being


The feel good effect of physical activity is one which although realised has barely reached its potential in the modern world of stress and inactivity for our mental health. Physical Activity and Psychological Well-Being provides a research consensus on the relationship between physical exercise and the aspects of mental health. Whilst reviewing and integrating relevant information the book also considers physical activity in relation to the different aspects of mental health: * anxiety * depression * mood and emotion * self-esteem * cognitive functioning * psychological dysfunction. This is invaluable reading for undergraduates and post graduates of sport and exercise science and provides a foundation for health services, sport specialists and psychologists alike to promote the benefits of physical activity and improve mental health.


Exercise and community health

There is now a worldwide acceptance among medical authorities that physical activity is an important element of healthy living (WHO, 1995). Syntheses of studies (Berlin & Colditz, 1990; Powell, Thompson, Caspersen, & Kendrick, 1987) have indicated that sedentary lifestyles carry at least twice the risk of serious disease and premature death. This is on a par with the relative risk of hypertension and hyperlipidemia and not far behind smoking and has led to suggestions that inactivity should be considered the fourth primary risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke. Sedentary living is also the most prevalent risk factor with around 40% of the middle-aged and elderly population taking part in infrequent or no moderate to vigorous physical activity (Sports Council/HEA, 1992).

The public burden of inactivity is therefore high and activity promotion could provide a cost-effective strategy for public health improvement (Morris, 1994). In the US it has been estimated that inactivity results in one third of all deaths from CHD, colon cancer and diabetes (Powell & Blair, 1994). The strength of the evidence has led to a US Surgeon General's Report entitled Physical Activity and Health (1996) calling for nationally driven initiatives to promote physical activity. In the UK, the Health of the Nation Task Force on Physical Activity produced the consultation paper More people, more active, more often (Department of Health, 1994b). Also, the Health Education Authority expert consensus conference was held to determine the recommended amount of activity for health and targets for physical activity promotion (Killoran, Fentem, & Caspersen, 1994). Policy documents and agendas for physical activity promotion were also produced by organisations such as the National Forum for Coronary Heart Disease Prevention (1995).

Since that time, substantial amounts of public funds have been provided through the Health Education Authority to deliver Active for Life, a public media and community support campaign to promote physical activity. This has finished now and in its latter phases had a more specific focus on groups such as young people, women, and ethnic minorities. For instance,

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