Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Final Post:Reflection

To address the needs of psychology and kinesiology, especially in the area of exercise, I can see Academic blogging as a effective way to further academic inquiry. I used a blog as one of my sources in this project, and found one of the most interesting pieces of information that I used. If other people looked and cited my blog in their research, or simply just for their own interest, they would find out all about the beneficial effects of exercise in their own lives and maybe contribute some of their own experiences. The main point that came out of this paper was that kinesiologists and psychologists need to perform further research on exercise and its effects on psychological well being and to relay the current information to the general public. This blog and other blogs similar to it are some ways to inform the public of the research these two fields have done and continue to do. Academic blogging is a good way to inform people of information germane to your own topic or field of study, and also to ask questions of whether there is more or conflicting information that needs to be covered. It also allows people to pick out new academic questions when they read a blog. For example, in conducting research, it was found that elder people respond more to exercise cognitively than other generations and increase braingrowth dramatically. This has major implications if someone wanted to further research this and make a new research question that hasn't been thought of before. Overall, this blogging assignment has helped to further my own knowledge about blogging and the topic at hand through continually posting new research and interesting findings or questions. It has also helped in learning about other completely different topics and fields of study when commenting on and reading other blogs by other students, and proved to be very interesting.

In the future, I do not thing that i have any more plans for my blog. I may post once in awhile if new research comes to my attention regarding exercise and psychology, but I will probably be busy and not post. However, I will try to be aware of these two fields and am trying to pursue a career in them, meaning i will probably learn a great deal about new information on exercise and psychology. I have no comments on any of my posts so far so I have not really been getting any feedback, but posting them has been enough for me and whoever reads them will learn which makes me happy. I hope to post again at least once, and if anyone has any questions just write them in a comment.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Post 6: Updated impressions on the research

After researching whether exercise has an effect on psychological well being the last month I have found that it has a big effect, and it is a beneficial one. Almost all the sources I looked at had huge bodies of research suggesting positive effects of exercise on psychological health. This goes for both general people and clinical patients suffering from psychological disorders. For clinical patients, exercise is a great way to treat depression and anxiety, especially paired with drug treatment. Findings have even suggested that exercise is the most effective because after a couple years, the drugs may not work anymore in relieving symptoms. The great thing about these studies is that the amount of exercise usually used was only walking for 30 minutes, 3-4 days a week. This is not a very hard thing for people to do, and with the wide range of psychological benefits, why not take 30 minutes out of the day to exercise. Although 30 minutes walking a day works in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms, exercising more is better. More research needs to be done on vigorous exercise, weight training programs, and intense flexibility training to see if these have better effects on psychological well being. Although all three have shown positive effects, vigorous high intensity exercise has shown the most promise, at least for the younger population who can participate in these kinds of activities.

The frustrating thing is that in general, people do not really know about the psychological effects of exercise. People need to know that exercise, whether it be walking half an hour a day, playing a sport, or going for runs, can help improve mood, self image, self esteem, troubled sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety. These are all problems that exist in peoples everyday lives, and many do not know how to fix them. This is why in my paper, I am going to explain that the number one goal for psychologists and kinesiologists at this point is to help make people aware of the results from their research, and to continue and expand the research they have done. This would hopefully help inform the public and eventually help to decrease psychological health care costs and create more psychologically healthy people.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Post #5 Exercise studies and neurogenisis

When researching how exercise might effect psychological well being, I came across a website focused on neurointerests, and found interesting new research that connects to my topic. The source explained that exercise increases chemicals in the brain that promote neurogenesis, which is the growth of new brain cells. This is very interesting as it may be a reason why exercise has been found to elevate mood and help with sleep. More active neurons might allow people to be more mentally active. The article went on to show how exercise has major implications on the aging population, who begin to lose neurons as they age, resulting in memory and motor problems. Two studies explore this question in detail:

In one study of rats, scientists measured brain activity of active and non active mice. The active mice, who were running on wheels more than the others, produced about three times more neurons than the mice that didn't exercise. These results extended to humans in a study at University of Illinois. In this research, elderly non-active people were assigned to either an aerobic exercise program or stretching program and were given MRI scans after six months. The exercise group showed significant growth through neurogenesis of several areas of the brain. Although these results do not directly relate to my research, it is a very interesting and important study. Not only can exercise help the aging with psychological problems, but also with keeping their brain active enough to maintain their cognitive ability. This may be a point to briefly go over in the research paper because it has major implications on the general public. Although many doctors already suggest exercise to the elderly, more concrete studies would influence people more to act on these suggestions. The most important part of these studies are that exercise does increase the growth of brain cells in many areas. The question to figure out is whether this connects to the increased mood, self efficacy, and decrease in anxiety that results from exercise. If anyone has found these connections, they would greatly strenghten my paper because they would show more of why exercise has psychological benefits.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Post #4 studies on depression

When analyzing psychological health, depression and anxiety are some of the most common problems. It is hard to measure psychological well being characteristics like these because most of the time, they are internal to people and can only be revealed through questionnaires and self reports of how they are feeling. However, there are some ways to measure psychological health using MRI's, or conducting studies on subjects that actually have the disorder and observing whether their health improves or the symptoms are reduced. Thus, in discussing the positive effects of exercise on psychological health, there are a few ways to accurately measure it.

In one specific study the researchers compared effects of exercise and drug therapy in treating clinically depressed people. There were 156 depressed patients divided into three groups: those recieving anti-depressants, those recieving aerobic exercise, and those recieving both treatments. Although it would be better for my research if exercise was the best treatment, the study found that 68.8% of participants recieving a combination of treatment were no longer classified by doctors as clinically depressed after treatment (the measurement). This was significantly higher than the other groups and shows that maybe exercise combined with medicine is the best treatment after all. Should I include this in the paper to come? In looking at more studies of clinically depressed people, it seems that combination is the best. However, multiple studies have shown that exercise does reduce THE RISK of anxiety and depression disorders, which I think is a very important finding because maybe the disorders would not show up in the first place if people had properly exercised. Also depression is correlated with self esteem and maybe it is reduced partly because of the enhancing effects exercise has on self esteem.

Another interesting study that could be incorporated into my paper found that exercise has long lasting effects on depression. In a similar study to the one above, depressed patients had reduction in symptoms of depression after exercise. The interesting part of this is that the research followed patients whose depression had subsided for six months and found that only 8% of those who exercised and continued to exercise had depression return. This is compared to 38% for drugs only treatment and 31% of the dug and exercise combination. Thus, this finding shows that exercise alone is the most important predictor of returning depression rather than the combination of exercise and drugs. this shows it may be first important during depression to incorporate both, but as it diminishes reduce the drugs and use more exercise.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Post 3: Psychological effects at the neurological level

In most of the sources analyzing how exercise may affect psychological well being, they do not always tell why this effect was happening. The sources usually have just said, exercise can improve self esteem, self image, and sleep... In one kinesiology book about fitness, it showed some reasons for why exercise may have positive effects on psychological health. No concrete facts have been found regarding issue, but there have been a number of proposals backed by research. Firstly, physical activity stimulates the emotion centers of the brain, which produce improvements in mood and cognitive ability. Also, exercise has been associated with increased alpha brain wave activity, which relates to relaxation. The most convincing evidence has come from research that studies chemicals and neurotransmitters in the body and brain. Using MRI's and imaging techniques, researchers have found that exercise stimulates the release of endorphins and phenylethylamine. Endorphins help suppress fatigue, decrease pain, and produce euphoria. Phenylethylamine is associated with a boost in energy, mood, and attention. These two chemicals that are released during exercise are probably related to the observable psychological effects that we see after exercise, such as enhanced mood and increased self image. Exercise also decreases the secretion of hormons triggered by emotional stress, accounting for stress reduction. Lastly, exercise has been found to alter the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. One neurotransmitter, seratonin, is associated with mood and has been found to increase during exercise which may be another cause for the elevated mood. After searching for more research on this on the internet, i have found that this neurological research is widely supported and is the main theory for how exercise increases psychological well being, especially the mood aspect. This is very interesting and I will definitly research further to see if there is any concrete evidence for what has been found. It would be good for my paper to find if levels of other neurotransmitters are changed during exercise and find out whether they might affect psychological health. For example, dopamine levels (a neurotransmitter) are associated with pleasurable feelings, which might effect self esteem.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Post #2: a specific source exploring exercise and psychology

In researching whether there are effects of exercise on psychological well being, both psychologists and kinesiologists have found positive effects. In one source, a kinesiology book analyzing physical activity and the various health benefits it has (Hoeger and Hoeger 2006), there is an outline of how physical exercise gives people a psychological boost. According to the source, physical exercise lessens feelings of anxiety, stess, depression, and anger, alleviates insomnia, allows people to meet social needs, and provides opportunity to do something enjoyable. All of these are aspects of psychological well being that have been problems for people that have cost a huge amount of money in the form of pills and other therapies. Many people have trouble in at least one of these areas (stress, anxiety, social problems) but are not aware that simple exercise may alleviate these symptoms. These findings have huge implications for the population because not only would this help individual people, but also the government which spends billions of dollars on psychological health every year. This source is valid as it is used in kinesiology classes but these findings need to be relayed to the general public. In addition, the source lacks discussion of specific studies and instead explains the overall results of exercise.

All these psychological effects from exercise are very important to mental and emotional health, but it seems that they are being ignored. How can the public become more aware of these studies? Maybe by increasing the amount of studies, replicating them, and making this information readily available, people will recognize the need not just to exercise for physical health, but for psychological health as well. Are there any other suggestions for this problem?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Previous Experience with Psychology and what I want to explore now

I have always been fascinated by the human mind and how it causes different behaviors. As a result, I enjoy studying psychology, especially how it relates to interpersonal relationships and personalities. I have taken a wide variety of interesting psycholical courses such as developmental psycholgoy, behavioral neuroscience, and psychology statistics. Recently, I have become interested in how psychology may be related to the field of kinesiology, which studies movement and includes sports and exercise science. These two fields have integrated numerous times in studies of sports psychology and how psychological techniques may help increase sports performance. For example, there is evidence that positive self talk and imagery relate to higher athletic performance and even professional athletes like NBA all star point guard Gilbert Arenas have employed these strategies. In addition, exercise and psychology are often intertwined and the question being raised is whether exercise increases or has a positive effect on psychological well being, which refers to mood, amount of sleep, stress level, and more. This is the question I would like to explore because that would give even more reason for inactive people to exercise, for it would be increasing not only physical but also mental health. If positive effects of exercise are found it is important that people know about it so that psychological problems might diminish along with physical problems, helping people become more all around healthy beings.

Monday, October 22, 2007

first post ever

this is my first post. i saw into the wild last night.