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Sport Psychology: Benefits of Exercise

Benefits of Exercise

exerciseThe relationship between the mind and the body has been studied from a dualistic perspective from the earliest of times, in which the Greek and Hebrew philosophers viewing the mind and body as two very distinct entities. However, since then, most philosophers and researchers have taken a holistic perspective, considering the mind and the body to be interrelated, inseparable entities. In recent years, controversy has shifted from the question of whether there is a link between the relationship between the mind and the body has been studied from a dualistic perspective from the earliest of the mind and the body to the question of what the precise, causal relationship is between these two components.

The public participation in the fitness craze of the 1970ís spawned a considerable amount of research examining physiological as well as the psychological benefits of exercise. Although a substantial body of evidence has been accumulated over the years supporting the physiological benefits of exercise, including lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart attack, as well as improving the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, research defining the psychological benefits of exercise has been less clear. Researchers reviewing the literature have concluded that exercise has been associated with decreased levels of depression, anxiety, improved cognitive functioning and self concept.


One of the more important and exciting areas in the field of sport psychology is that of psychological well-being and physical exercise. The finding that vigorous physical activity might be associated with feelings of improved well-being has profound implication for coaches, physical educators, psychologists and participants themselves.

Among the various psychological benefits that have been investigated by exercise researchers, the possibility that exercise may lead people to experience improved affective states has receive the greatest attention. Researchers have examined the impact of exercise on both reductions in negative affect (e.g., anxiety, depression) as well as increases in positive affect (e.g., pleasantness, euphoria), although attention has been directed primarily towards the negative states.

The activities considered in studying the relationship of exercise to psychological well-being have primarily been the aerobic activities. Some researchers  have defined aerobic exercise to be vigorous physical activity at a moderate to intense level of 70-80 % of maximum heart rate, engaged in for a minimum of 15-20 minutes, or long enough to allow for aerobic benefits. The activities usually considered in examining the relationship between exercise and psychological well-being have frequently involved such aerobic activities as running, walking, cycling, swimming, and cross-country skiing.

By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist  Ph.D. Candidate 

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