Psychological health and wellbeing

Work covering the relationship between physical activity and general aspects of psychological well-being.

This page contains work covering several related areas:

  • The relationship between physical activity and general aspects of psychological well-being; self esteem; the management of anxiety and depression;
  • Work on general life satisfaction material dealing with specific groups (older women, children and young people);
  • The role of sport in assisting personal and social integration among people with disabilities.

Psychological benefits of aerobic exercise (Hungary, 2008)

Authors

Rendi, M; Szabo, A; Szabo, T; Velenczei, A and Kovacs, A

Date

2008

Keywords

Psychological wellbeing, exercise, adults

Country of research

Hungary

Summary of findings

This article reports on a Hungarian study of 76 male and 4 female regular participants (mean age: 35) in fitness activities and the psychological benefits of aerobic exercise.  Half the sample exercised on a stationary bicycle and half on a treadmill in their normal environment and at self-selected workloads.

All participants completed the Exercise-Induced Feeling Inventory based on a series of Likert scales before and after 20 minutes of exercise and all wore a heart rate monitor.

Distance travelled and weight-corrected calories burned were read directly from the equipment displays.  The exercise intensity and heart rate, perceived intensity and estimates of burned calories were higher in runners than cyclists.  However, there were no differences in self-reports of enjoyment of the exercise sessions and in the psychological improvements from pre- to post-exercise between the two groups.  The authors conclude that significant psychological improvements occur after a 20-minute bout of exercise and, in line with previous research, that these changes are independent of the workload or exercise intensity.

Methodology

Randomised comparison, heart rate monitor

Source of reference

Psychology, Health and Medicine, 13(2), 180-184

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/carfax/13548506.html

Effects of organised sport on shy children (Canada, 2008)

Authors

Findlay, LC and Coplan, RJ

Date

2008

Keywords

Psychological health and well-being, anxiety, self-esteem, emotional well-being, sports participation, children

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

This article reports on a Canadian short-term longitudinal study to examine the potential role of participation in organised sport to act as a moderator between shyness and psychosocial maladjustment in childhood. It was hypothesised that sports participation would have unique benefits for shy (and anxious) children in terms of their peer relationships, socioemotional functioning and general well-being. The research was undertaken with 201 schoolchildren (average age: 10; 52% female) using two survey points 12 months apart.

Parents completed a Social Skills Rating Scale; the children completed a Children's Shyness Questionnaire, a Conflict Tactics Scale measuring physically aggressive behaviour over the previous six months, a self-report sports participation information sheet, a general well-being questionnaire, a self-description questionnaire, a Social Anxiety Scale, a Loneliness and Social Dissatisfaction measure and positive and negative affect schedule.

The authors' analysis suggests that participation in organised sport was related to various positive psychosocial outcomes, with sports participants reporting more assertiveness, self-control, positive affect and well-being, physical ability self-esteem, physical appearance self-esteem and peer self-esteem than non-participants. Shy children who took part in organised sport had higher general self-esteem than did shy non-participants.

The authors suggest that this effect might reflect the importance of sport in determining social status.

Over the 12 month period shy children who took part in sport demonstrated a significant decrease in social anxiety. The authors list a number of limitations with their research: it relied largely on children's self-report and recall (especially for sports participation), if failed to explore issues of aptitude and there was substantial attrition in the sample over the 12 months, with those who opted out being recorded as a being the least cooperative, least assertive and more social anxious at stage 1, which will have reduced the variability of outcomes at stage 2.

The authors conclude that sports participation can play a protective role against some of the negative outcomes associated with shyness.

Methodology

Longitudinal study, statistical analysis

Source of reference

Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 40(3) 153-161

Web reference

http://www.cpa.ca/

Contributions of sport to life aspirations and psychological well-being (UK, 2007)

Authors

Chatzisarantis, NLD and Hagger, MS

Date

2007

Keywords

Psychological well-being, sport, adults.

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This article reports on a study to test the hypothesis that the effects of participation in recreational and competitive sport on psychological well-being are mediated by the importance ratings of life aspirations.

The article begins with an exposition of self-determination theory and a theoretical discussion of the importance of the basic psychological needs for experience of competence, autonomy and relatedness and their centrality to human development and growth and relationship with psychological well-being.

They explore the distinction between hedonic enjoyment and eudemonia (personally expressive activities that facilitate self-realisation through the fulfilment of personal potentials).  The authors also explore the related concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic life aspirations and suggest that the relative importance of these is critical for psychological well-being.

Further, not all forms of sports participation are associated with psychological well-being because they do not promote valuing and/or attainment of intrinsic life aspirations.  This is most obviously the case with competitive sport and its emphasis on extrinsic rewards.

Within this context the authors seek to explore three hypotheses:

While intrinsic aspirations would positively predict both hedonic and eudemonic happiness, attainment ratings of extrinsic aspirations would predict neither hedonic or eudemonic well-being;

ndividuals who participate in competitive sport would assign greater importance to extrinsic aspirations relative to intrinsic aspirations compared to recreational participants;

The effects of activity type on psychological well-being would be indirect via importance ratings of life aspirations.

The study was conducted on 83 male and 35 female university students (average age: 20.8 years).  Life aspirations were measured and their importance evaluated via 14 categories, including intrinsic life aspirations, meaningful relationships and health-related goals.  Extrinsic goals included financial success, fame and image.  A personal expressiveness scale was used to asses psychological well-being on hedonic (pleasure vs pain) and eudemonic (activities congruent with deeply held values) facets.  The type and level of current and previous physical activity were recorded.

The authors claim that their findings indicate that, compared to recreational sport, competitive sport is associated with diminished psychological well-being when it is viewed as a means to achieve extrinsic life goals.

Consequently the relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic life aspirations is a key dimension in predicting psychological well-being.  Whereas attainment of intrinsic life aspiration through sport is associated with both hedonic enjoyment and eudemonia attainment of extrinsic aspirations was associated with neither.

They conclude that the key factor determining the level and quality of psychological well-being is life aspirations rather than sports participation per se.  They suggest that the moral worth of sport does not lie so much in sport participation itself, or in the frequency of participation, but in the goals and values that people express though sports participation.

Methodology

Survey

Source of reference

Journal of Sports Sciences, 25(9), 1047-1056

Web reference

http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/02640414.asp

Effects of team sports on girls' self-esteem (Canada, 2004)

Authors

Pedersen, S and Seidman, E

Date

2004

Keywords

Mental health / psychological well-being, personal development, self-esteem, adolescent, girls.

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

This longitudinal Canadian study explores the association of girls' self-esteem with their achievement and self-evaluations on interest and competence in team sports. Following a review of relevant literature the authors conclude that previous research tended to ignore low-income female populations; fail to differentiate between individual and team sports and tend to be cross-sectional. It seeks to test two hypotheses:

Girls' early adolescent team sports achievements will predict higher global self-esteem later in adolescence;

This association will be mediated by the girls' team sports self-evaluations. Adolescent girls (n: 247) from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds were surveyed as apart of a larger study investigating the development of poor urban youth.

The average age of the survey population at stage one was 13 years and 16 at the second stage. At each stage data were collected on self-esteem, team sports achievement (type of team, whether captain, if won an award), team sports self-evaluation of interest and competence (e.g. 'compared to others, how good are you?', 'how much do you like playing team sports?'), individual sports self-evaluations of interest and competence.

The authors conclude that their data are consistent with the hypotheses that team sport achievement in early adolescence is related to girls' global self-esteem in middle adolescence and that team sports self-evaluations mediate the relation between achievement and self-esteem. In contrast, the self-evaluations of individual sports failed to explain a significant proportion of the variance in global self-esteem.

The findings suggest that the associations of team sports achievement and team sports self-evaluations with global self-esteem may be due in part to the esteem–enhancing qualities of the team environment and are not entirely a function of sports' participants higher rates of physical activity or a sense of general athletic competence. The authors also state that their findings support the view that domain-specific evaluations (in this case team sport) is the building blocks of global self-esteem.

However, the proportion of variance accounted for by team sports achievement and self-evaluations in global self-esteem were small.

The authors suggest that this small effect size may reflect the fact that a variety of experiences influences global self-esteem, or that the effects of team sport achievement may be vary, being moderated by team structure, team composition or team leadership qualities.

The authors suggest that sport for girls should address issues of the development of self-efficacy directly via such things as positive feedback, most valuable or improved player awards and creating roles of honour.

Methodology

Survey data

Source of reference

Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28, 412-422

Web reference

http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0361-6843

Effects of physical activity on inactive teenager girls (US, 2008)

Authors

Schneider, M; Dunton, GF and Cooper, DM

Date

2008

Keywords

Psychological well-being, self-concept, physical activity, females, adolescents

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This article reports on a 9-month controlled trail in the USA to explore the extent to which physical activity can promote increased physical self-concept and increased global self-concept among sedentary adolescent females (intervention groups: 61; comparison group: 59).

The research sought to test  two hypotheses:

Participants would report increased physical self-concept in multiple domains and this would be accompanied by an increase in global self-concept

The enhancements in self-concept would be more pronounced among those intervention participants who increased their physical activity and/or their cardiovascular fitness (a measure ignored in most previous research).

Before the trial commenced physical activity levels were self-reported on a 3-day (30 minute intervals) recall basis and these data were converted into metabolic equivalents.  During the trial period one weekday and two weekend days were assessed.  Cardiovascular fitness was obtained via a ramp-type progressive exercise test on a cycle ergometer, heart-rate monitors were used once per week and body mass index and body fat were recorded.  Data on physical self-concept were recorded on a 70 item Physical Self-Description Questionnaire.

The intervention group met 5 days per week for 60 minutes each day (40 minutes activity time) for aerobic dance, yoga, basketball, swimming and Tae Bo.  In addition there was a once per week discussion on the benefits of physical activity.  The comparison groups did not have the discussion session and attended regular PE lessons.

The study found that the intervention was not effective for enhancing physical self-concept (or global self-esteem), despite an increase in self-reported vigorous activity and a significant improvement in cardiovascular fitness.

However, there was an interaction between improved cardiovascular fitness and enhanced global physical self-concept.  The authors hypothesise that, given the central role that body fat plays in adolescent females' self-concept, the fact that the intervention was not intensive enough to  reduce this may explain the lack of impact on self-concept.  They also speculate that something more than simple participation in group-based physical activities might be needed to raise self-concept.

The authors conclude that their study does not offer strong support for the hypothesis that increased physical activity leads to enhanced self-concept among sedentary adolescent females.  Rather, it appears that there may be a trend for enhanced physical self-concept over time, with increased fitness  accelerating this trend only in the context of an intervention that includes a didactic component informing participants why physical activity is important.  The authors suggest that their study raises new questions about the relative roles of cognitive and behavioural interventions.

Methodology

Survey, fitness testing

Source of reference

Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 9, 1-14

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/620792/description#description

Review of evidence on the impact of exercise on self-esteem (UK, 2000)

Authors

Fox, KR

Date

2000

Keywords

Psychological well-being; physical activity; self-esteem; self-perception; exercise

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This provides an overview of the literature on the impact of exercise on self-esteem.

It examines the complex nature of self-esteem and the self-system and the role of the physical self within this. It explores the potential for exercise in the promotion of self-esteem and the various mechanisms through which this might be achieved. It reviews current research evidence on the effect of exercise on self-esteem and summarises the general conclusions to be drawn from cross-sectional research, intervention research (concentrating on 36 randomised controlled studies). It examines findings for various age groups and explores the characteristics of effective exercise, frequency, intensity and duration and outlines possible mechanisms underpinning the positive relationships between exercise and self-esteem (although these are not well understood).

Mechanisms may include: an undetermined psycho-physiological mechanism; improvements in fitness or weight loss; autonomy and personal control; sense of belonging and significance.

The general implications for practice are:

  1. Greatest improvements in self-perception/self-esteem are likely to occur in those groups who have the most to gain physically from exercise participation, such as the middle-aged, the elderly and the overweight and obese.
  2. Greatest improvements are likely to occur in those who are initially low in self-esteem, physical self-worth and body image, including women in general, those with mild depression, physically disabled children and adults, overweight and obese adults and, perhaps, offenders.
  3. There is greatest support for the effectiveness of cardiovascular exercise and weight training programmes.
  4. A focus on moderately demanding exercise, with sessions of about 60 minutes.
  5. Programmes should last at least 12 weeks with some form of contact continuing for 6 months or more.
  6. Adherence factors cannot be separated from those that promote self-esteem. Conditions that affect the attractiveness of the exercise programme, such as the qualities of the leader or the exercise setting, may be crucial to changes in self-esteem.

Methodology

Literature review

Source of reference

In: Biddle, SJH; Fox, KR and Boutcher, SH (eds), Physical activity and psychological well-being. London: Routledge; 2000, 88-117.

A review of exercise programmes aimed at managing depression (UK, 2001)

Authors

Lawlor, DA and Hopker, SW

Date

2001

Keywords

Psychological well-being; exercise; physical activity; depression

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This is a systematic review of 14 randomised control trials of exercise programmes aimed at managing depression. These studies were selected from 72 similar studies based on rigorous methodological selection criteria and details of each study are provided.

Despite this, all 14 studies had important methodological weaknesses; randomisation was inadequately concealed, intention to treat analysis was rarely undertaken and assessment of outcome was blinded in only two and follow-up periods were short. Participants in most studies were non-clinical, community volunteers and diagnosis was determined by their score on the Beck depression inventory. Studies indicate that aerobic and non-aerobic exercise have a similar effect. However, this may be because the effect is due to psychosocial factors, such as learning new skills or socialising, rather than the exercise itself.

In the UK rates of compliance with exercise on prescription schemes vary from 20 percent to 50 percent. Consequently, the authors argue that it is reasonable to assume that compliance among patients with depression would be similar or worse and the widespread use of non-clinical samples suggests that any positive results may have limited generalisability.

The authors conclude that it is not possible to determine from the available evidence the effectiveness of exercise on the management of depression. However, exercise may be effective in reducing the symptoms of depression in some volunteers in the short term. Doctors could recommend more physical activity to their motivated patients, but this should not replace standard treatment, particularly for those with severe disease.

Exercise may be efficacious in reducing depressive symptoms, but the poor quality of much research is of concern.

Methodology

Systematic review and meta-regression analysis

Source of reference

British Medical Journal, 2001, 322, 1-8.

Web reference

http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/

Effects of sport on the physical and psychological well-being of girls (US, 2009)

Authors

DeBate, RD; Gabriel, KP; Zwald, M; Huberty, J and Zhang, Y

Date

2009

Keywords

Physical activity; physical fitness and health; self-esteem; girls

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This article reports on a before-and-after study of 1,034 female participants (aged 8-13) in a 12 week twice-weekly developmentally focussed sports programme.  The research explored the impact of participation on self-esteem, body-size satisfaction, commitment to physical activity and risk behaviour.  The 12 week programme was structured around a series of topics relating to self-awareness, team-building and cooperation, community issues and media stereotypes.  Each session was structured around warm-up activities, stretching, multiple running activities involving a game to teach the session topic and a closing session to encourage individual and group behaviour. At the end of the 12 weeks all take part in a 5k running event.  A pre- and post-test self-completion questionnaire was used to collect the data.

Because of the non-experimental nature of the research the authors emphasise the preliminary and non-conclusive nature of the findings.  Nevertheless they conclude that participation in the programme resulted in beneficial changes in self-esteem, body-size satisfaction and physical activity commitment and frequency. 

The two key findings are:

(i) participation increased commitment to be physical activity, especially among the 11-15 age group;

(ii) although improvements were greatest after the first exposure to the programme, those returning to the programme also experienced further improvements.

The authors outline a number of threats to validity.  Although they conclude that some threats are minor, the issue of self-selection and a relatively low response rate (46%) are a possible concern and emphasise the preliminary nature of the findings. 

The authors conclude that prior to initiating programmes to promote physical activity for girls it is important to consider structuring educational programmes which promote the development of self-esteem and positive attitudes toward physical activity in a fun atmosphere that does not stress exercise.

Methodology

Pre- and post-intervention study; survey

Source of reference

Journal of School Health, 2009, 79(10), 474-484

Web reference

http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=0022-4391

Does club sport contribute to quality of life? (Australia, 2010)

Authors

Eime, R; Harvey, J; Payne, W and Brown, W

Date

2010

Keywords

Psychological well-being; quality of life; sports clubs; women.

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

This article reports on Australian research exploring the relationship between physical activity and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and life satisfaction in women who participate in three forms of physical activity - club sport, gymnasium activities and walking.  Because of the social nature of participation in club sport, the researchers hypothesised that participants in sports clubs would have greater HRQoL than participants in the two other activities.

This was an observational study (n: 793 women) of the relationship between type, frequency and duration of physical activity plus measures of HRQoL and life satisfaction.  These data were compared with 2,345 women from a normative population sample.  Data were collected on the potential confounders of age, marital status, having children aged less than 16 years, and perceived financial stress.

After adjusting for the potential confounders, significant differences were found between the groups for six of the 36 measures on the HRQoL scale:  physical role functioning; general health; vitality; social functioning; emotional role functioning; mental health and the life satisfaction score.  In each case the club sport group had the highest mean score.  The differences between club and gymnasium groups were significant for all 8 variables, and between club and walk groups for 4 variables.

The authors admit that such a cross-sectional approach research cannot definitively establish a causal link, the results suggest that sport clubs are likely to enhance the health benefits of physical activity and support the notion that sports clubs might be beneficial settings for health promotion.  However, they conclude by suggesting that sports must develop strategies to overcome health and social barriers to participation.

Methodology

Cross-sectional; observational study

Source of reference

Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 12, Supplement 2, e90

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/

Links between playing sport and self-esteem at age 11 to 14 (Canada, 2006)

Authors

Bowker, A

Date

2006

Keywords

Psychological well-being; sports participation; self-esteem; adolescence.

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

This Canadian study explores the nature of the links between sports participation and self-esteem via a sample of 382 students (167 boys; 215 girls) in Grades 5-8 (ages 11-14) in four schools. The author provides a broad overview of the research on the nature of such relationships and adopts a hierarchical and multi-dimensional approach to the issues. In this, physical self-esteem is viewed as a potential mediator of the relationship between sports participation and general self-esteem. Further, physical self-esteem is divided into two components – physical appearance and physical competence – which may be differentially associated with boys and girls and have different impacts on global self-esteem. The issue of possible age-related changes to self-esteem are addressed by dividing the sample into younger adolescents (Grades 5 and 6) and older adolescents (Grades 7 and 8).

A 70-item Physical Self-description Questionnaire was used to explore the multidimensional aspects of physical self-concept. A 23 item Body Esteem Scale was used to determine how positively individuals perceive themselves in terms of appearance and body image. A Sports Participation Information Sheet collected data on number of sports, years and level of participation.

No significant age-related differences in self-esteem were found. Girls felt less positively than boys in terms of physical competence and global physical self-esteem. However, girls and boys felt similarly satisfied about their physical appearance, with both reporting positive feelings about physical appearance and general self-esteem.  The benefits of sports participation were consistent for both sexes, making them feel better about themselves physically (appearance and competence) and generally. There was little difference between competitive and non-competitive sport. Consistent with previous research, the relationship between sports participation and general self-esteem was not direct, with participation having its strongest impact on physical self-esteem, which in turn was predictive of general self-esteem. Physical competence played a more significant role for boys in determining general self-esteem, with the more difficult to attain physical appearance more important for girls.

The authors list some limitations with the study: (i) it is cross-sectional and offers limited generalisability; (ii) it did not include other indices of domain-specific self-esteem which contribute to general self-esteem.

The authors conclude that sports participation can lead indirectly to improved self-esteem by impacting on domain-specific self-esteem which are closely related to physical self-attributes. The apparently direct link between physical appearance and general self-esteem for both boys and girls illustrates the strong social emphasis on physical appearance. They conclude that further research is needed into the impacts of types of sports participation, the level of sports participation and the frequency of regular physical activity.

Methodology

Cross-sectional; survey.

Source of reference

Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 38(3), 214-229

Web reference

http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/cbs/

National well-being and international sports events (UK, 2009)

Authors

Kavetsos, G and Szymanski, S

Date

2009

Keywords

Major events, psychological well-being

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

This paper uses data on self-reported life satisfaction for 12 European countries to explore two hypotheses:

  • The success of a nation's athletes produces a measurable increase in reported happiness among citizens of that nation;
  • Simply acting as host produces an increase in happiness among the citizens of a host nation.

The events chosen were Olympic Games, FIFA World Cup and the UEFA European Championships.

The authors provide a review of the literature and evidence on the economic impact of sporting events and on happiness.  They review the literature of the impact of events on employment and wages pointing out that jobs created are off-set by jobs lost due to substitution effects and that the multiplier for sports related expenditure may be lower than for other types of expenditure and long term employment might be part-time, casual, low skilled and low waged.  The review material related to sports stadia and legacy, estimating tourist numbers – time switchers, causal, crowding out – and infrastructure investments and urban regeneration.  As many of the economic arguments are weak the authors suggest that stronger justification for public expenditure in events might lie in the economics of happiness.  They provide a brief overview of the strengths and weaknesses of research on the extent of happiness in populations and the various factors which have been explored.  They propose that their work contributed to this emerging branch of economics by focussing on the relationships between sporting events and population happiness.

The authors use life satisfaction data for 12 countries from the Eurobarometer Survey series between 1974 and 2004.  For the Olympics they focus on measures that relate expected performance to actual performance and for the hosting hypothesis they include a dummy variable for the host.  For football tournaments they used FIFA rankings before and after tournaments.

The results indicate that reported life satisfaction is positively affected when national athletic performance is better than expected, but the effect is not significant except where performance is measured relative to lagged medals (an adaptive expectations approach to Olympic performance).  Overall they conclude that it is plausible that national sporting success can lead to an increased sense of life satisfaction, but the effect is not a very powerful one.  With regard to the impact of hosting events there is a stronger effect, at least relating to soccer tournaments – it seems that it is not the performance at an event, but hosting the event that matters for happiness.

However, they conclude that overall the results do not generally support the view that there are systematically significant and positive anticipatory or post event legacy effects with respect to measured happiness. The authors argue that the data indicate that hosting events does not create more than a short-term feelgood factor.

Methodology

Literature review, secondary source analysis.

Source of reference

Journal of Economic Psychology, 31, 158-171

Web reference

http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/505589/description#description

Review of the benefits of sport for amputees (Netherlands, 2011)

Authors

Bragaru, M; Dekker, R; Geertzen, JHB and Dijkstra, PU

Date

2011

Keywords

Sport; sport participation; amputees.

Country of research

Netherlands

Summary of findings

This is a systematic review of literature and research relating to a variety of aspects of amputees' participation in sports: biomechanics, cardiopulmonary function, psychological aspects, sports participation and physical functioning and sports injuries.  Following an extensive search of databases the authors identified 3,689 papers, of which only 47 (1.3%) met their specific criteria.  All papers are listed providing the details of methods, amputee characteristics, study design and results.  Most were older than 10 years and had cross-sectional designs.  Study participants were generally younger and often had more traumatic amputations than the general population of individuals with limb amputations.  The heterogeneity of population characteristics, intervention types and main outcomes made pooling of data impossible.  The findings are accompanied by advice about the implementation of exercise and sports programmes.

Participation in a variety of relevant sports (related to individual capabilities) and physical activity was found to positively influence physical fitness, psychosocial well-being and physical functioning.  Interestingly data indicates that in Europe only between 11% and 39% of amputees take part in sport, compared to an estimated 61% in the USA.  Studies have identified different factors influencing participation in sports for this group, but there is no overall agreement.  The review provides brief information on limitations on certain activities such as running and long-jumping and the role of prosthetic limbs (although the evidence suggests that most do not use prostheses [note: most of these studies are at least 10 years old]).  Cardiopulmonary function was better when a simple physical exercise programme was included (the intensity of which needs to be tailored to individual abilities).

The psychological impact of the disability on athletes with limb amputations was found to be smaller as compared to those with other disabilities.  Participation in sports and physical activities had a positive influence on self-esteem, perceived body image and locus of control.  In general the benefits of sports participation outweigh the inconvenience of the disability. There is some indication that participants improve their mobility skills, personal relationships and the acceptance of their own disability.  The evidence in relation to physical functioning, mobility and activity level including age, aetiology, amputation level and previous sports participation is mixed and difficult to draw conclusions.  Sport-related muscle pain was more frequent among limb amputees than others with different physical disabilities.  The limited nature of the research made it difficult to identify disability-specific injury rates or patterns.  Also the sports which individuals with limb amputations prefer – fishing, swimming, golf – were not investigated.

The authors caution that the review findings should be treated with caution because only few studies had a high methodological value.  However, their overall conclusion is that participating in sports or physical activity is beneficial for those with lower limb amputations, with the psychosocial benefits being at least equal to those experienced by able-bodied people.  Further research should focus on the inclusion of a larger variety of sports and individuals with upper limb amputations and the influence of sports on quality of life needs to be more thoroughly investigated, along with determinants of participation.  Finally a physical training programme to improve cardiopulmonary function as part of a rehabilitation programme should be developed and tested for its efficacy.

Methodology

Systematic review

Source of reference

Sports Medicine, 41(9), 721-740

Web reference

http://adisonline.com/sportsmedicine/toc/2011/41090

Physical activity, anxiety and stress (UK, 2000)

Authors

Taylor, AH

Date

2000

Keywords

Psychological well-being; physical activity; anxiety; stress

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

The author provides definitions of stress, anxiety and physical activity and the nature of the inter-relationships between. The role of physical activty in anxiety prevention and treatment is explored via a review of six meta-analytic reviews. A review of several narrative reviews is also provided in which 73 per cent of the studies reported anxiety-reducing effects, with chronic exercise lasting nine or more weeks fairly consistently leading to greater reductions in trait anxiety.

The review considers the extent to which literature for 1989 has confirmed or clarified understanding of (i) the anxiety-reducing effects of  both chronic and acute physical activity and (ii) the effects of both types of activity on reactivity to stress.

The review concludes:

  1. The low-to-moderate anxiety-reducing effect of physical activity
  2. A period of exercise training can reduce trait anxiety
  3. Single exercise sessions will reduce state anxiety
  4. Single sessions of moderate exercise can reduce short-term physiological reactivity to and enhance recovery from brief psychosocial stressors
  5. Exercise training can reduce trait anxiety across a range of sub-groups
  6. Exercise training has been used successfully to reduce trait anxiety in  a range of clinical and non-clinical settings
  7. Exercise training appears to have the greatest trait anxiety-reducing effects when the duration is at least 10 weeks (with greatest benefits over 15 weeks)          
  8. Trait anxiety-reducing effects are not dependent on changes in physical fitness
  9. Single (acute) exercise sessions appear to have the greatest state anxiety-reducing effects when the exercise type if aerobic and rhythmic

Limitations in knowledge include:

  1. The long-term effects of accumulated doses of activity.
  2. The anxiety-reducing effects of short-term bouts of free-living, unsupervised aerobic, physical activity which can be most easily integrated into an active life-style
  3. The anxiety-reducing effects of non-aerobic exercise such as weight and circuit training
  4. The influence of social interactions on anxiety in exercise settings
  5. The determinants of adherence to free-living and facility-based exercise programmes                

The implications for the exercise practitioner are:

  1. Exercise sessions should provide a distraction from worry and anxiety-inducing thoughts and provide the exerciser with a sense of mastery and achievement
  2. Exercise testing and programming should  should involve individual contact and goal setting  which supports positive change in self-perceptions
  3. Exercise sessions should be incorporated into daily living
  4. A supervised exercise programme may provide an important setting for the initiation of an anxiety-reducing intervention if the exercise practitioner has an adequate understanding of the anxiety-reducing mechanisms involved

Methodology

Review article

Source of reference

In: Biddle, SJH; Fox, KR and Boutcher, SH (eds), Physical activity and psychological well-being, London: Routledge; 2000, 10-45.

Influence of physical activity on mental well-being (UK, 1999)

Authors

Fox, KR

Date

1999

Keywords

Physical activity; psychological well-being

Country of research

United Kingdom

Summary of findings

The key messages outlined in this review are:

  • There is growing evidence demonstrating that exercise can be effective in improving the mental well-being of the general public, largely through improved mood and physical self-perception. Evidence for its contribution to the development of global self-esteem is more limited. There is good evidence that aerobic and resistance exercise enhances mood-states and weaker evidence that exercise can improve cognitive function in older adults (primarily assessed by reaction time).
  • There is good evidence to demonstrate that exercise is effective as a treatment for clinical depression and state and trait anxiety.
  • Together this adds to the already convincing literature that exercise reduces morbidity and mortality from coronary heary disease, diabetes, obesity and cancers.

There is little evidence to suggest that exercise addiction is identifiable in more than a very small percentage of exercisers. Together, this body of research suggests that moderate regular exercise should be considered as a viable means of treating depression and anxiety and improving mental well-being in the general public. Possible mechanisms for such positive effects are explored:

  • Biochemical. It is suggested that the endorphin effect is not widespread and studies have not found a corrrelation between endorphin levels and mood. The extent to which there is an interaction between exercise, central serotonin and improved mood remains unknown.
  • Physiological. Increased fitness may not be the trigger for change although it may eventually accompany it. Process factors associated with regular participation in exercise rather than change in functional status seem to be more salient to mental well-being change. Other possible factors include increased muscle relaxation, cerebral blood flow and neurotransmitter efficiency.
  • Psychosocial. Possible factors include improvements in perceptions of competence and self-efficacy; confidence about the body and its capabiliities may generalise to global self-esteem; improved body image (especially for females); social affiliation and significance.

It is likely that multiple mechanisms are effective in any one situation. The dominance of any one mechanism will be determined by exercise characteristics (intensity and duration), characterisitics of the individual and environmental factors surrounding the exercise. Current evidence suggests that process may be more significant than physiological adaptations.

The interactive effect of diet and exercise and mental well-being has not been systematically researched.

The author concludes that exercise should be promoted regardless of its impact on mental health, as it carries significant reduction in risks for a range of diseases and disorders. There is no definitive exercise recommendation for all elements of mental health promotion, as it is likely that the different formulas of frequency, intensity and duration apply for different mechanisms and perhaps different populations.

Methodology

Meta-analysis

Source of reference

Public Health Nutrition, 1999, 2, (3a), 411-418.

Links between physical activity and emotional resilience in young people (US, 2008)

Authors

Valois, RF; Umstattd, MR; Zullig, KJ and Paxton, RJ

Date

2008

Keywords

Psychological well-being, self-efficacy, physical activity, children

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This study explored the relationships between physical activity behaviours and emotional self-efficacy of 2,566 school pupils (40% female; aged 12-18) in South Carolina.

The article provides a brief review of research on the relationship between teenage physical activity and a range of psychological factors, including the importance of self-efficacy in influencing participation in physical activity.

This research explores one aspect of self-efficacy – emotional self-efficacy, or the perceived capability of coping with negative emotions.  The authors conclude that no previous research examined the relationship between physical activity and emotional self-efficacy among adolescents.

To undertake such a study the authors drew a representative sample from the 2003 Youth Risk Behaviour Survey.  Data were collected via a emotional self-efficacy (ESE) questionnaire using Likert scales to explore attitudes to various issues such as how well respondents controlled their emotions, how well they could cheer themselves up if feeling low, how much they worried about things that might happen.  Data on nature, type and intensity of physical activity in the past seven days were collected.  The data were analysis for four race[black/white]/gender groups.  Significant relationships were found between low ESE and three of four low level physical activity behaviours among black females, white females, black males and white males.

The authors conclude that the study demonstrates a meaningful association between two distinct adolescent health research literatures: health risk behaviour (low PA) and ESE and confirms previous related research findings.  They conclude that the data indicate three potentially important pathways in understanding why low ESE appeared to be associated with decreased PA.

  1. Where individuals are placed in situations where they are required to meet highly valued standards they may face anticipatory apprehension and lowered ESE. 
  2. A low sense of affect regulation may obstruct the positive benefits offered by participation in physical activity (especially team sport). 
  3. Low ESE regarding the ability to have control over negative thoughts and feelings may inhibit youth in a variety of ways and may lead to increased anxiety and depression.

The authors note important limitations with their study.  Firstly, the cross-sectional design precluded firm conclusions as to whether those who did not tale part in physical activity did not do so because of low ESE or whether they reported low ESE owing to a lack of physical activity.  Further, the study provided no information about the mechanisms for the development of ESE, the extent to which they may vay between males and females and therefore little advice for practitioners

Methodology

Survey, statistical analysis

Source of reference

Journal of School Health, 78(6), 321-327

Web reference

http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=0022-4391

Relationship between life satisfaction and physical activity among young people (US, 2004)

Authors

Valois, RF; Zullig, KJ; Huebner, ES and Drane, JW

Date

2004

Keywords

Psychological well-being; physical activity; sport; children; adolescents; boys; girls

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This article is based on a survey of 4,758 pupils, representative of all public high school students in grades 9 to 12 in South Carolina.  It investigates the relationship between life satisfaction and self-reported physical activity. 

The associations were investigated separately for race and gender.  The life satisfaction scale had six domains: family; friends; school; self; living environment; overall life satisfaction.

Results indicate significant relationships between self-reported life satisfaction and non-involvement in physical activity and this relationship was significantly influenced by gender and ethnicity. 

The authors suggest that white females playing on a sports team appears to be protective.  This suggest that team sports serve to enhance school connectedness, social support and peer bonding and may have a greater value than regular exercise. 

For both black and white males it appears that regular exercise, stretching exercise, PE classes and playing on a school sports team are protective for perceived life satisfaction. 

The authors acknowledge methodological limitations: the study is cross-sectional and cannot address the issue of causation; and the geographical sample may not be representative of the general population. Despite these limitations they suggest that participation in sports teams for physical activity may enhance the physiological and psychological well-being contributing to the life satisfaction for adolescents.  They conclude that further research is required into the mechanisms that might explain the significant gender differences.

Methodology

Survey

Source of reference

Journal of School Health, 74(2), 59-65

Web reference

http://www.ashaweb.org/journal_schoolhealth.html

Links between physical activity and mental health for older women (Australia, 2003)

Authors

Lee, C and Russell, A

Date

2003

Keywords

Psychological well-being; physical activity; emotional well-being

Country of research

Australia

Summary of findings

This longitudinal and cross-sectional study explored relationships between physical activity and mental health in a large cohort of Australian women in their 70s.

Women participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health responded in 1996 and 1999. Cross-sectional data were analysed for 10,063 women and longitudinal data for 6472.

Self-reports were used to categorise women into four categories of physical activity at each point, as well as to define four physical activity transition categories across the 3-year period. Outcome variables for the cross-sectional analyses were mental health components score (MCS) and mental health sub-scales of the Medical Outcomes Study Short form (SF-36).

The longitudinal analyses focused on changes in these variables. Confounders included the physical health component scale (PCS) of the SF-336, marital status, body mass index (BMI) and life events. Adjustment for baseline scores was included for the longitudinal analyses.

Cross-sectionally, higher levels of physical activity were associated with higher scores on all dependent variables, both with and without adjustment for confounders. Longitudinally, the effects were weaker, but women who had made a transition from some physical activity to none generally showed more negative changes in emotional well-being than those who had always been sedentary, while those who maintained or adopted physical activity had better outcomes.

The authors conclude that physical activity is associated with emotional well-being among a populations cohort of older women both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, supporting the need for the promotion of appropriate physical activity in this age group.

Methodology

Cross-sectional and longitudinal data

Source of reference

Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2003, 54, 155-160.

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00223999

Review of evidence on the psychological benefits of exercise (Northern Ireland, 1998)

Authors

Scully, D; Kremer, J; Meade, MM; Graham, R and Dudgeon, K

Date

1998

Keywords

Psychological well-being; exercise

Country of research

Northern Ireland

Summary of findings

This offers a critical examination of evidence relating to the relationship between physical exercise and psychological benefits. The review examines existing literature on exercise and mental health in relation to changes in anxiety, depression, mood, self-esteem, and stress reactivity, premenstrual syndrome and body image. The general conclusion is that a range of exercise regimens may be able to play a therapeutic role in relation to a number of psychological disorders. The authors argue that enthusiasm for the positive effects of exercise on psychological well-being must be tempered with an acknowledgement of potential danger, such as exercise addiction and body image. Existing research suggests that different forms of physical exercise may be palliative in relation to particular conditions and different psychological conditions respond differently to differing exercise regimens.

With regard to depression the authors conclude that it seems safe to accept that physical exercise regimens will have a positive influence, with the most powerful effects noted among clinical populations. Limited evidence would suggest that aerobic exercise is most effective, including activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, light circuit training and weight training and that regimens which extend over several months appear to yield the most positive results.

With regard to anxiety the literature unequivocally supports the positive effects of exercise, with short bursts of exercise appearing to be sufficient. In addition, the nature of the exercise does not appear to be crucial, with the most positive effects being among those who adhere to programmes for several months.

In respect of stress responsivity the role that exercise plays is described as preventive rather than corrective and there are unaswered questions about the relationship between stress and physiological and psychological symptoms. Nevertheless, it would appear that aerobic exercise (of sufficient intensity to elevate the heart rate significantly above resting pulse rate for over 21 minutes) may significantly enhance stress responsivity, especially in relation to stress related to lifestyle or work.

In respect of mood states both aerobic and anaerobic exercise can be associated with an elevation of mood state, particularly for clinical samples, although it is likely that more than one underlying mechanism may be implicated.

With regard to self-esteem the more specific subdomains of perceived sport competence, physical condition, attractive body and strength may be associated differentially with behaviour in various sports. However, the literature gives little guidance as to which forms of exercise may be beneficial to which types of self-esteem.

With regard to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) the evidence points to the benefits of exercise, with less strenuous forms of non-competitive exercise most effective. The type of exercise, its duration and length still await clarification.

It is very difficult to establish precise guidelines with regard to the intensity and duration of exercise, partly because of methodological difficulties inconsistencies across studies. Overall three main factors are considered when explaining why more definitive conclusions cannot yet be reached. Firstly, the research base remains thin and primary data are not extensive. Secondly, it is not yet clear how psychological and physiological processes and functions interact in the determination of outcomes. Thirdly, the primary mechanisms that underlie the relation between exercise and psychological well-being remain poorly understood.

Methodology

Review article

Source of reference

British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1998, 32, 111-120.

Web reference

http://bjsm.bmjjournals.com/

Benefits of sport for girls' physical and psychological development (US, 1998)

Authors

Bunker, LK

Date

1998

Keywords

Physical health; psychological well-being; physical activity; sport; girls

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This research digest summarises research findings on the contribution which sport and physical activity can make to the psycho-physiological development of girls and young women.

It explores physiological dimensions (motor skill development, physical fitness, body composition, immune system functioning), psycho-social dimensions (self-concept, emotional well-being; social competence).

It concludes that physical activity and sport are important developmental opportunities for boys and girls as they 'learn to move and move to learn' about themselves, their bodies and their social contexts.

Contributions include increased strength and power, better cardiovascular functioning, enhanced immune system responses, opportunities to develop moral reasoning, positive self-concepts and social interaction skills. There are however unique dimensions of the sport experience for girls in terms of physiological and psychological/emotional development and the challenges which sometimes exist between socially influenced expectations (eg idealised body physique) and the health benefits of regular exercise (body composition, body weight).   It concludes with the following recommendations:

(i) Children should participate in regular physical activity and sports experiences, especially in quality, adult supervised activities and daily physical education in schools.

(ii) Opportunities should be provided which include both health-related fitness activities and skill building to enhance physical competence and life-long participation.

(iii) A wide range of activities should be available, including both individual and group experiences and cooperative vs competitive ones.

(iv) Excessive exercise and training should be carefully monitored because it may be linked to amenorrhea, while excess emphasis on body physique may lead to disordered eating - the signs of these problems should be carefully attended to by adults.

(v) Moderate and regular physical activity can promote psychological and emotional well-being, including reduced depression.

(vi) Equal and safe opportunities should be provided for both boys and girls to participate in a full range of physical fitness and sports activities.

Methodology

Review article

Source of reference

Bunker, LK, Psycho-physiological contributions of physical activity and sport for girls, Washington: President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports; 1998, Research digest series 3, no 1.

 

Benefits of physical activity for older people (US, 1998)

Authors

Chodzko-Zaijko, WJ

Date

1998

Keywords

Physical health; physical activity; older adults; psychological well-being; quality of life

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

The review offers summaries of the immediate and long-term physiological, psychological, and social benefits of physical activity for older persons, based on findings from existing research.

The authors recognise that although the majority of physical activity programming for older adults has tended to focus on a relatively small and healthy subgroup of the older adult population, the scientific and medical evidence reviewed clearly demonstrates that participation in regular physical activity is associated with tangible health benefits for almost all older adults.

Research indicates increased cardiovascular efficiency, anti-hypertension effects, increased muscular strength and improved balance. It also illustrates increased psychological well-being, and more positive mood states and reduced anxiety. However, no clear picture emerges about the effects on cognitive performance.

The authors recommend that emphasis is placed on an educational process and increased awareness of the role of physical activity in healthy aging throughout all segments of society, and most importantly, among older people.

Methodology

Review article

Source of reference

Chodzko-Zaijko, WJ, Physical activity and aging: implications for health and quality of life in older persons, Washington: President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports; 1998, Research digest series 3, no 4.

Physical activity and quality for life among women over 60 (US, 2001)

Authors

Koltyn, KF

Date

2001

Keywords

Physical activity; physical health; psychological well-being; quality of life; older adults; women

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

The association between physical activity and quality of life in older women is examined based on a study with women over the age of 60 years, living independently or in assisted-care facilities.

Quality of life was measured via questions from the World Health Organisation Quality of Life instruments (WHOQOL-BREF), which includes four major domains - physical and psychological health, social relationships and environment.  

Despite an unbalanced sample (70% lived independently and 30% in assisted-care facilities), results indicated that women living independently had significantly higher physical activity levels, including total time spent being physically active (hours/week), energy expenditure (kcals/week), vigorous activities, walking, and climbing stairs, than women living in assisted-care facilities.

Overall quality of life, as well as the specific domains of physical health, social relationships, and environment were found to be significantly higher in women living independently compared to women living in assisted-care facilities.

There was no significant difference in the psychological domain of quality of life between the two groups of women. The association between physical activity and quality of life, regardless of living status, is also analysed. Significant associations were found between overall quality of life and energy expenditure, and between overall quality of life and vigorous activities.

There was also a significant association between the physical health domain of quality of life and three of the physical activity categories including:

  1. total time spent being physically active,
  2. energy expenditure, and
  3. vigorous activity.

The need for further research to determine what kinds of and how much physical activity is needed to influence quality of life in older adults is acknowledged.

Methodology

Survey data

Source of reference

Women's Health Issues, 2001, 11, (6), 471-480.

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/10493867

Effects of sport on the self-image of young disabled people (US, 2001)

Authors

Groff, DG and Kleiber, DA

Date

2001

Keywords

Social capital; social integration; sport; physical disabilities; identity; adolescents

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This research explored the belief that participation in sport may be linked to identity formation of adolescents with physical disabilities.

Qualitative interviews were conducted with 11 youth.

Analysis of the data revealed four themes:

(a) skill and competence,

(b) emotional expression,

(c) social interaction and connectedness with others with a disability, and

(d) decreased awareness of disability.

Participation in adapted sports appeared to provide the majority of these youth with a heightened sense of competence and opportunities to express their "true" selves.

In addition, sport participation by the youth with disabilities led to decreased awareness of their disabilities and facilitated exploration and expression of identity alternatives.

This exploratory study provided some evidence that involvement in an adapted sports programme was related to identity formation.

Methodology

In-depth interviews

Source of reference

Therapeutic Recreation Journal, 2001, 35, (4), 318-332.

Web reference

http://www.nrpa.org/story.cfm?story_id=584&departmentID=38&publicationID=21

Sport as a motivator for achievement among disabled athletes (US, 2001)

Authors

Page, SJ; O'Conner, E and Peterson, K

Date

2001

Keywords

Social capital; sport; disabilities; motivation

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

The authors suggest that there is a tendency to hypothesise that athletes with disabilities exhibit differential levels of achievement motivation.

This in-depth study of six competitive athletes (2 male, 4 female) explored the nature of their motivation and how their histories had influenced their decisions.

A Sport Orientation Questionnaire was adapted to provide the basis for interviews which explored overall sport orientation, levels of competitiveness, desire to win in interpersonal competition and tendency to set personal goals.

Thematic analysis indicated that participation provided a means of affirming competence and being considered a serious competitor, providing a common social outlet for individuals who are disabled, promoting fitness and delaying the effects of disability.

The ways in which sports participation can offer an ameliorative outlet for individuals with disabilities are discussed.

Methodology

Interview data

Source of reference

Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 2001, 25, (1), 40-55.

Web reference

http://www.sagepub.com/journal.aspx?pid=149

Sport as a means of social inclusion for physically disabled children (US, 2000)

Authors

Taub, DE and Greer, KR

Date

2000

Keywords

Physical activity; physical disabilities; social integration; children; identity; peer relationships

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

Children with physical disabilities are frequently excluded by classmates and discouraged from participating in such typical childhood experiences as physical activity. Consequently such children have fewer opportunities to enhance physical and social skills.

This study examined the socialization potential of physical activity for children with physical disabilities. In-depth, tape-recorded interviews were conducted with 21 boys and girls with physical disabilities (age 10 to 17 years) regarding perceived outcomes of their physical activity and reactions of others toward their participation.

Findings indicate that physical activity is a normalizing experience for these children because it facilitates perceptions of legitimating their social identity as children and provides a setting in which social networks with peers are enhanced.

Being physically active is enabling because it increases perceptions of improving life situations and strengthens feelings of having greater control over life events. However the gains predominantly occur at the personal or small-group level. The children seldom questioned the discriminatory treatment of individuals who do not demonstrate physical ability in the typical (i.e. stereotypical) ways.

For participation in games and events to be advantageous on a broader or societal level, children with physical disabilities collectively need to acquire access to more competitive and elite sport contexts. For such children to internalise the beneficial aspects of the corporate other, they need increased community opportunities to participate in integrated competitive and elite athletic events. This will enhance their knowledge of organisational norms and values that facilitate professional advancement and societal organisation.

Methodology

In-depth interview data

Source of reference

Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 2000, 24, (4), 395-414.

Web reference

http://www.sagepub.com/journal.aspx?pid=149

What disabled students say about the benefits of sport (US, 1999)

Authors

Blinde, EM and Taub, DE

Date

1999

Keywords

Social capital; social integration; sport; physical activity; physical disabilities; sensory disabilities; empowerment; self-perception; men

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This study was based on in-depth interviews with 28 male college students with physical or sensory disabilities (19 were in a wheelchair and ages ranged from 20 to 51, with 86% Caucasian and 14% African American).

It examined experiences and perceived outcomes and the empowering capability of sport and physical activity.  Results indicate that participation was associated with three empowerment outcomes: perceived competence as a social actor; facilitation of goal attainment (including setting and pursuing goals; determination; competitiveness); social integration (including bonding; broadening social skills and experiences and increased social inclusiveness). The type and extent of physical activity or the organisational structure (recreational or competitive) generally did not affect empowering outcomes.

The salient factor affecting empowerment seemed to be the participation experience rather than the nature of the activity, with respondents emphasising the participation experience rather than the extrinsic rewards often associated with activity participation.

The authors point to the fact that the sample was male only and to a need for further work to explore the potential impact of socio-demographic variables.

Methodology

Interview data

Source of reference

Journal of Sport Behaviour, 1999, 22, (2), 181-202.

Physical activity and childhood symptoms of depression (US, 2003)

Authors

Tomson, LM; Pangrazi, RP; Friedman, G and Hutchison, N

Date

2003

Keywords

Mental health; psychological well-being; children; depression; physical activity

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This research explored the relationship of between classified as physically active or inactive by a parent or teacher to depressive symptoms in a sample of 933 children aged 8 to 12 (462 boys, 471 girls).  It also assessed the relationship of playing sports outside school and of meeting health-related fitness standards, to symptoms of depression.  The research was premised on a cognitive-behavioural model of depression in which the experience of mastering something perceived as difficult creates positive psychological changes.  Depression was estimated via a classroom based self-completion questionnaire (based on the Dimensions of Depression Profile for Children and Adolescents) and survey data were on physical activity (including sport out of school) were collected from children, teachers and parents.  BMI was measured by trained school PE teachers.

The main findings of the study show a strong association between depression and both levels of physical activity and health-related fitness status.  The relationship between playing sports outside school to depressive symptoms was significant for boys, but not for girls.  For boys playing sport, 4.3%  had symptoms of depression, compared to 10.5% of those who did not.  The relative risk of depressive symptomatology for boys who did not play sport was 2.4 times higher than for those who did.

The main limitation of this research is its cross-sectional design, which prevents conclusions about causality and possible unmeasured factors.  Also, physical activity levels are not based on direct observation.  Nevertheless, the authors conclude that the data indicate that an elevated risk of depressive symptomatology among active children and those not meeting criterion-referenced standards for health related fitness mean that it is worthwhile to attempt physical activity and exercise interventions with children.

Methodology

Survey data; statistical analysis

Source of reference

Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 2003, 25, 419-439

Web reference

http://www.humankinetics.com/

Long-term effects of aerobic exercise on mental health (US, 1999)

Authors

DiLorenzo, TM; Bargman, EP; Stucky-Ropp, R; Brassington. GS; Frensch, PA and LaFontaine, T

Date

1999

Keywords

Psychological well-being; physical activity

Country of research

United States of America

Summary of findings

This study was designed to address certain methodological limitations of existing literature on the relationship between increased physical fitness and psychological outcomes.

The primary purpose of the study was to examine both short- and long-term psychological effects of a 12 week aerobic fitness programme on participants recruited from the community, using a control group, adopting physiological testing  to determine frequency, duration  and intesity and quantify changes in aerobic fitness and psychological outcomes.

Exercise participants experienced a positive fitness change and psychological improvement during the programme compared to the control group. At a one year follow-up physiological and psychological benefits remained significantly improved from baseline. Results indicate that exercise-induced increases in aerobic fitness have beneficial short and long-term effects on psychological outcomes.

The researchers postulate that participants in the exercise group did not increase their amount of weekly exercise over the 12 month follow-up and thus the maintenance of the psychological improvements occurred concurrent with equal or lesser amounts of exercise.

Methodology

Psychological and physiological assessments

Source of reference

Preventive Medicine, 1999, 28, 75-85.

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/

Effects of sport on the behaviour of young people (Turkey, 2012)

Authors

Özer, D; Baran, F; Aktop, A; Nalbant, S; Ağlamış, E and Hutzler, Y

Date

2012

Keywords

 Psychological health and well-being; sport; youth, intellectual disabilities, social behaviours, social integration.

Country of research

Turkey

Summary of findings

This Turkish-based study investigated the effects of an eight week/three 90 minute sessions per week Special Olympics Unified Sports (UNS) soccer programme compared to an extracurricular sports programme on the psycho-social attributes of youth with and without intellectual disabilities (ID).  The participants were 76 males aged 12 to 15 from a special and an ordinary school and equally divided between those with and without ID.  Participants were randomly divided into a Special Olympics (SO) and non-SO group.  Pre- and post- questionnaires were administered to the athletes, partners and teachers in the separate groups.  Three measures were used: Child Behaviour Checklist which explored areas of competence and problem behaviours; Friendship Activity Scale measuring attitudes towards participating individuals; Adjective Checklist to assess attitudes by asking for a judgement of the attributes of a new peer.

In terms of participation in the UNS programme there was a significant increase in the social competence scores of SO athletes, reaching a similar level to their partners without ID.  In terms of problem behaviours there was a reduction in the appearance of borderline behaviour problems in both participant and control group.  Both the UNS programme and the educational services attended by the control group seem to have had similar effects.  In terms of the Friendship Activity Scale there was a significant increase for UNS participants without similar changes in the control group, indicating the value of the UNS programme in providing an opportunity to establish social relationships outside the special schools.

In terms of those without ID there was no significant effect on the already high social competence scores.  After attending the UNS programme the attitudes of those without ID towards those with ID improved, although their intentions to play and interact with these peers were not changed.

The authors point to the short-term nature of the programme and that some of the data collection instruments used are not specifically designed for use with children with ID and may have under-reported problem behaviours.  The authors conclude that the UNS programme was effective in decreasing the problem behaviours of youth with ID and increasing their social competence and Friendship Activity scores.  The programme was also effective in improving the attitude of youth without disabilities towards participation with those with ID.

Methodology

Survey; Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL); Friendship Activity Scale (FAS); Adjective Checklist (ACL).

Source of reference

Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33(1), 229–239

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0891422211003477

Integration in sports for young people with learning disabilities (Canada, 2012)

Authors

Grandisson, M; Tétreault, S and Freeman, AR

Date

2012

Keywords

Psychological health and well-being; sport; intellectual disabilities; social inclusion; young people.

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

The aim of this Canadian study was:

(i) to document adolescents' and parents' perceptions of the outcomes of sports participation including but not limited to integrated sports, and

(ii) to gain a better understanding of the facilitators and barriers to integration. 

Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 40 young people aged 12-19 and their parents (more mothers than fathers).  A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 39 rehabilitation staff including educators, research and clinical counsellors and rehabilitation professionals.  Audio-taped group discussions were also undertaken.  The adolescents were divided into two groups – one participating in organised sports and non-participants.  Data were collected via an amended Disability Creation Process theoretical model and variables emerging from relevant literature. 

The themes which emerged from the adolescent interviews reinforced existing research findings and were: health improvements; self-esteem development; increased social inclusion; development of motor, social and cognitive skills; and having fun.

The parents' outcomes were feeling of pride in their child and improvement in parent-child relationships.  For the non-disabled participants the key outcome was an increased awareness of differences. 

In line with previous research findings the factors associated with the integration of adolescents with intellectual disability in sports were divided into four broad categories

(i) Socio-cultural factors: attitudes towards integration in sports, characteristics of the group of athletes, coaches' knowledge about intellectual disability, presence of an athlete model in family;

(ii) Political economic factors: availability of practical support, characteristics of the sport, information about integrated athletic activities, procedures in place for integration in sports, cost of activity, availability of transport;

(iii) Physical dimension: availability of adapted equipment; and

(iv) Personal factors: capabilities (behavioural, motor, social and communications), independence level and previous experience and interest in sport.

The authors argue that there is a need for alliances between public health authorities, rehabilitation professionals, integrated sports organisations, Special Olympics, schools, communities and the media (including social media).  They outline a series of individual responsibilities for each of these partners.  The authors suggest that strength of the study was the adaptation of the interviews and the use of images which facilitated individuals' participation, although the non-participant group had more difficulty talking about something they were not involved in, although the parents had much to say about barriers.  Some limitations include: the use of convenience sampling; the inclusion of only those who were able to communicate functionally; the absence of participants with a visible physical disability; limited socio-demographic information; and the importance of differing cultural attitudes to people with disabilities.

Methodology

Self-completion questionnaires; interviews; group discussions.

Source of reference

Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 25(3), 217-230.

Web reference

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-3148.2011.00658.x/abstract

A model for predicting sport participation among disabled people (Canada, 2012)

Authors

Perrier, M-J; Sweet, SN; Strachan, SM and Latimer-Cheung, AE

Date

2012

Keywords

 Psychological health and well-being; sport; participation; physical disabilities; identity.

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

This Canadian study had two objectives: (i) to test the fit of the Health Action Process Approach (HAPA) model for sport participation among individuals with acquired physical disabilities, and (ii) to estimate the extent to which athletic identity predicts intentions to engage in sport within the context of HAPA. 

The HAPA constructs are arranged in two distinct stages: the motivational phase is characterised by an individual setting intentions to behave in a certain way and high task self-efficacy, outcome expectancies and risk perceptions are required to set intentions for actions; the volitional phase is where the individual begins to implement intentions into behavioural Intentions along with high task and maintenance self-efficacy which are necessary to set action and coping plans.  In addition, the authors sought to explore the potential of the notion of athletic identity to predict sports participation.

A convenience sample was recruited from disability sports organisations and via postings in adapted gyms, resulting in 82 women and 19 men all aged 18 plus with acquired permanent disabilities.  All HAPA indicators and athletic identity were assessed at baseline and sport participation was assessed using the Leisure Time Physical Activity Questionnaire for People with Spinal Cord Injury two weeks later.  Structural equation modelling was used to test the HAPA model – which collected data on outcome expectancies, risk perceptions, task self-efficacy, intentions, maintenance self-efficacy, planning and recovery self-efficacy.

The HAPA constructs explained 15% of the variance in sport participation and 18% of the variance when athletic identity was added to the model.  Instrumental, affective and negative outcome expectancies were significant predictors of intentions to participate in sport, as was athletic identity.  Intentions to participate in sport significantly predicted planning yet there was no direct relationship between planning and sport participation.  When the relationship between planning and maintenance self-efficacy was reversed, planning had a significant indirect effect on sport participation through maintenance self-efficacy.

The authors note some limitations: only sport was measured and no data were collected about physical activity; coping plans were not investigated in-depth, the study only examined sport for two weeks and there is a need for longer-term analysis, the data were self-reported.

The authors conclude that the HAPA model is a good predictive model for sport participation among those with acquired physical disabilities, with athletic identity accounting for additional variance.  They suggest that the constructs can be valuable components of sport promotion programmes for this population.  On the basis of the data they suggest that there is a need to foster athletic identity, increase positive outcome expectancies and reduce beliefs that sport is risky behaviour.  Building multiple types of self-efficacy through comprehensive action and coping planning can help maintain involvement in sport.

Methodology

Survey; self-reporting.

Source of reference

Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(6), 713-720

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029212000581

Effects of sport on quality of life of physically disabled people (Turkey, 2012)

Authors

Yazicioglu, K; Yavuz, F; Goktepe, AS and Tan, AK

Date

2012

Keywords

Psychological well-being; sport; quality of life; sports participation; physical disabilities.

Country of research

Turkey

Summary of findings

The aim of this Turkish study was to compare the quality of life and life satisfaction scores between people with physical disabilities (paraplegia and amputee) participating in adapted sports with non-participants.  The article reports on a 14 month cross-sectional controlled study of 60 individuals aged 18 plus with physical disabilities that were divided into two equal groups of elite disabled athletes and non-sports participants.  The adapted sports were basketball, archery, air pistol shooting and amputee football. 

Both groups completed self-administered questionnaires which included socio-demographic data, the 26 item World Health Organisation Quality-of-life Scale, a five item Satisfaction with Life Scale and two open-ended questions on reasons for the priority they place on sports with regard to participation in the community and quality of life.

The study found that the physical, psychological and social domain scores in the Quality-of-Life Scale were significantly higher in the participant group.  Further, the Satisfaction with Life Scale score was significantly higher in the participant group, independent of the type of sport.  In the participant group, participation in adapted sports was the most significant factor that positively affected participation in the community and quality of life, compared to physical therapy and rehabilitation in the non-participant group. 

The authors suggest that this finding indicates that adapted sports can replace formal physical therapy and rehabilitation because it is real recreational therapy.  Family support was the second most important factor for both groups.  However, the authors admit that they were unable to establish a cause and effect relationship between sports participation and quality-of-life.  Further the use of elite athletes may have introduced a bias as the groups would inherently have different character attributes as well as different values and goals.

Methodology

Cross-sectional; self-completion survey.

Source of reference

Disability and Health Journal, 5(4), 249-253

Web reference

http://www.disabilityandhealthjnl.com/article/S1936-6574(12)00056-8/abstract

Impact of physical activity on older men's quality of life (Canada, 2012)

Authors

Vallance, JK; Eurich, DT; Lavallee, CM and Johnson, ST

Date

2012

Keywords

Psychological well-being; physical activity; adults; males; quality of life.

Country of research

Canada

Summary of findings

This Canadian self-reporting study explores any differences in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) between older men achieving and not achieving American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) physical activity (PA) recommendations.

A postal survey of 357 men (average age 63) collected data on demographic and health information, self-reported physical activity and HRQoL (using a 4 week version of the RAND-12 Health Status Inventory with mental and physical health components and a global health score.  Under half (48%) reported achieving the ACSM recommendation (at least 30 minutes on five days per week) while 64% reported achieving the USDHHS recommendations (at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity).

Older men achieving the ACSM recommendation reported significantly higher scores in physical health, mental health and global health compared to those not achieving the recommendation.  Those achieving the higher dose recommended by the USDHHS reported significantly higher scores on the physical health component and global health scales compared to both inactive men and those achieving the USDHHS base recommendation.

The authors acknowledge that the cross-sectional design does not permit attribution of cause.  Given the use of self-report of physical activity the data must be interpreted with caution as estimates are likely to be an overestimate.  As the data related to leisure time physical activity, any health benefits from household or occupational physical activity are not recorded.

Nevertheless the authors conclude that despite different physical activity behaviour rates across the recommendations, self-reported achievement of both recommendations was associated with higher HRQoL scores.  Associations were stronger for those achieving a higher volume of PA.

Methodology

Self-completion questionnaire

Source of reference

Preventive Medicine, 54, 234–236

Web reference

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743512000308