The Role of Exercise in Reducing Childhood and Adolescent PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression

By Motta, Robert W.; Kuligowski, Jenna M. et al. | National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, March/April 2010 | Go to article overview

The Role of Exercise in Reducing Childhood and Adolescent PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression


Motta, Robert W., Kuligowski, Jenna M., Marino, Dawn M., National Association of School Psychologists. Communique


A great many interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults have been described in the literature. These include, but are not limited to, cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, psychopharmacology, exposure therapy, anxiety management training, stress management techniques, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and physical exercise (Foa & Meadows, 1997) . In contrast, there is limited research and empirical support for evaluating treatment interventions for children diagnosed with PTSD. The material below will focus specifically on the role of exercise in reducing not only PTSD but also the major components that are associated with PTSD (i.e., anxiety and depression). Exercise fits in naturally with the ecological framework of children and with their educational curricula.

EFFECTS OF EXERCISE ON ANXIETY

Following a review of numerous cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, Salmon (2001) found consistent reductions in anxiety in adult samples following exercise. There are a variety of psychologically based explanations as to why exercise reduces anxiety. The distraction hypothesis implies that diversion from unpleasant stimuli or painful somatic complaints leads to improved affect following physical activity (Paluska & Schwenk, 2000). Bandura's (1977) self-efficacy theory suggests that individuals' perceptions of their capability to engage in exercise are increased following actual exercise participation. This might then lead to increases in self-confidence and enhancement of mood. The mastery hypothesis proposes that individuals gain afeeling of independence and control and therefore experience less anxiety (Paluska & Schwenk, 2000). Finally, the social interaction hypothesis indicates that those individuals who participate in physical activity gain social support from others, thus improving their mental health (Paluska & Schwenk, 2000).

Physiological explanations of the effect of exercise on anxiety include the monoamine hypothesis, which suggests that exercise enhances brain aminergic synaptic transmission (Paluska & Schwenk, 2000), and that this leads to increased levels of arousal and attention. This neurophysiological enhancement might then result in increased perceptions of self-efficacy and lowered anxiety. The endorphin hypothesis suggests that beta-endorphins are produced throughout the body during exercise and that beta-endorphins decrease pain and create a euphoric state that might be counter to the uncomfortable state associated with anxiety. Lastly, the thermogenic hypothesis proposes that after one engages in physical activity, body temperature rises and this rise is associated with enhancement of mood.

The majority of studies that show anxiety reductions with exercise have been done with adult samples. According to Berk (2007) , the few exercise interventions that have been implemented with anxious children and adolescents have resulted in lower levels of anxiety. Berk suggests that the lower levels of anxiety may stem from an increase in the release of endorphins. The improvements in mood that are said to be connected with endorphin release lead to improvements in social skills, increases in self-confidence, and a disregard of negative thoughts.

A lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, type II diabetes, negative mood states, and enhancement of self-esteem are all associated with adult participation in physical activity, according to Parfitt and Eston (2005). However, adolescents and children tend to provide less accurate estimates of their exercise levels than do adults, thereby complicating research efforts. Parfitt and Eston (2005) note that children and adolescents 11-13 years old recalled less than 50% of their daily activities throughout their school day and remembered 5596-65% of their daily activities from the previous day. Thus, the self-report measures that are typically used with adults to assess levels of physical activity would appear to be less desirable when used with children and adolescents. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Role of Exercise in Reducing Childhood and Adolescent PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.