Exercise as it relates to Disease/Can a single bout of exercise improve mood and self esteem?

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What is the background to this research?[edit]

Mental health has become one of the most important areas of government investment. With the growing recognition on the benefits of exercise research was conducted to see to what degree if at all exercise can improve the self esteem and mood on people with a pre diagnosed mental health condition. To asses this the Brunel Universal Mood States questionnaire and the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale were utilised.[1] Up till this point it was widely documented the positive effects of exercise. However the Effects of a single bout of exercise were not know in detail. This paper gives evidence as to how exercise could help people with mental health issues in a non disruptive way with little side effects.[2]

Where is the research from?[edit]

The study was conducted in the UK where 1 in four people are reported to have a diagnoseable mental health condition.[3] The paper was written out of Staffordshire University, Staffordshire, UK.

What kind of research was this?[edit]

There were a total of 65 people who participated in the study. 45 men and 60 women. There was a mean age of 44 with the minimun being 19 and the oldest 70. This was a case control study. This study is similar to a few others.[4][5] The study had a good sample size with a wide variety of individuals with varying mental health problems.

What did the research involve?[edit]

The study used a questionnaire that was developed in conjunction with the the mental health hospital the study took place. The questionnaire would take 10–15 minutes to complete prior to exercising and 5 minutes after exercise to complete. The participants would exercise for 45 minutes at a moderate intensity (Self reported). The participants had to meet certain criteria before participating. 1) Must be a patient in a mental health hospital. 2) Over 18 years of age. 3) Already participate in an exercise group at the hospital and 4) Be well enough on the day to complete the questionnaire. An issue I believe in the method of this study is that using individuals who already have a history of exercise will notice the positive effects of exercise far more than people without a history of exercise.[6] The limitation with the study would also be assessing exercise intensity. As it is self reported there can be widely different attitudes to what constitutes "Moderate" intensity exercise. The sample was relatively small and targeted a range of mental health conditions in a single hospital. The study ideally could have a greater sample size and target individual issues.

What were the basic results?[edit]

In the study 11 people incorrectly completed the questionnaire and therefor were removed from the study. A significant positive improvement was found in reported depression, confusion, vigour, self esteem, anger, and anxious tension. The only are where a significant difference wasn't reported was under fatigue. This result however readers should be cautious of as the participants may not differentiate between mental fatigue and physical fatigue. Researchers interpreted results by emphasising how great an improvement there was without re testing the patient a short duration after exercise was completed. Because of this it cannot be seen whether the positive effects of a single bout of exercise last. I do not believe the authors over emphasised the findings of this study. It is true exercise has a positive effect on mental health however the authors do admit more research must be done with a greater sample size and a wider variety of mental health diagnosis.

What conclusions can we take from this research?[edit]

I believe the study was appropriate for assessing the very basic effects of exercise on a population, in the case mental health patients. The study acts as a good base for new research to be built upon, giving support to more funding in the area. The study does not have a large sample size but does givew a decisive and consistent result. After this study was published many studies have been conducted.[7][8] Both these studies and many more have further supported the case put forth that exercise improves mental health.

Practical advice[edit]

Doing exercise at a moderate to high intensity ranging from 20 minutes to one hour or longer can greatly improve your over all wellbeing, not just mental health. Chemicals released in the brain such as endorphins that make you feel "good" after exercising arnt the only posotive on mental health. Exercise makes people more healthy. Less likely for injury and illness.[9] Greater self esteem and body positivity. Overall could lead to greater mental health. Risks of exercising are minimal but it is a good idea to see a doctor before starting a program to outline any risks you may have or exercises you should be weary of.

Further information/resources[edit]

Government websites such as https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/exercise-and-mental-health gives advise as to where to get help if you are struggling with mental health as well as the benefits of exercise.


  1. ELLIS N, RANDALL J, Punnett G. The affects of a single bout of exercise on mood and self-esteem in clinically diagnosed mental health patients. Open Journal of Medical Psychology. 2013;2(3):81-5.
  2. Morris FL, Naughton GA, Gibbs JL, Carlson JS, Wark JD. Prospective ten‐month exercise intervention in premenarcheal girls: positive effects on bone and lean mass. Journal of bone and mineral research. 1997 Sep;12(9):1453-62.
  3. Department of Health, “No Health without Mental Health:A Cross-Government Mental Health Outcomes Strategy for People of All Ages,” HMSO, London, 2011.
  4. Thayer RE. Calm energy: How people regulate mood with food and exercise. Oxford University Press, USA; 2003.
  5. LaFontaine TP, DiLorenzo TM, Frensch PA, Stucky-Ropp RC, Bargman EP, McDonald DG. Aerobic exercise and mood. Sports medicine. 1992 Mar 1;13(3):160-70.
  6. Szuhany KL, Bugatti M, Otto MW. A meta-analytic review of the effects of exercise on brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Journal of psychiatric research. 2015 Jan 1;60:56-64.
  7. Firth J, Cotter J, Elliott R, French P, Yung AR. A systematic review and meta-analysis of exercise interventions in schizophrenia patients. Psychological medicine. 2015 May;45(7):1343-61.
  8. Stanton R, Reaburn P. Exercise and the treatment of depression: a review of the exercise program variables. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2014 Mar 1;17(2):177-82.
  9. Veugelers KR, Young WB, Fahrner B, Harvey JT. Different methods of training load quantification and their relationship to injury and illness in elite Australian football. Journal of science and medicine in sport. 2016 Jan 1;19(1):24-8.