My biggest stress reliever is exercising! Back when I was a freshman I used to preach about it to the whole world. After playing basketball or working out I always felt happy, motivated, and much focused! It was the best feeling and it helps in so many ways! I also have some anxiety so it helps me with that too. I wanted to see an actual experiment being done on this, so I did some research and found so many articles on the benefits of exercise!
I came up upon on online article about the effects of exercise written by Kirsten Weir from the American Psychology Association. Many scientists talk about how exercise correlated with people’s mental state. Jennifer Carter, PhD, a sport psychologist and the Center of Balanced Living in Ohio, talks about how therapy does help and there are so many health benefits to moving your muscles. Michael Otto, PhD, professor of Psychology at Boston University talks about how many people know that exercise helps people physically, but are less aware of how it helps mentally. Otto also concludes to how high the correlation between exercise and mood is. In this study James Blumenthal, PhD, Clinical Psychologist is going to test the hypothesis.
Hypothesis: People who are active are less depressed than people who are inactive. People who used to be active and stopped, tend to be more stressed than people who have kept exercising or just started.
Null Hypothesis: People who are active are not less depressed than inactive people. People who used to be active and stopped are not more stressed than people who have keep exercising or just started.
Alternative Hypothesis: People who are active are less depressed than inactive people. People who used to be active and stopped are more stressed than people who have keep exercising or just started.
X-variable: Being active
Y-variable: less depressed
Confounding variable: daily amount of exercise, diet
Chance: could be a possibility
Blumenthal picked adults with major depressive order and conducted a randomized control trial.He split these adults into four groups:
- People who were supervised while they exercised
- People who exercised at home
- People who practiced anti-depressant therapy
- People who took a placebo pill
After four months Blumenthal states that exercise and anti-depressant groups, “had higher rates of remission than did patients on the placebo”. Exercise was pretty comparable to therapy in the study overall. Blumenthal later followed up with the patients a year after. He found that subjects who regularly exercised had a lower depression score than their peers who exercised less than them. He later concluded that exercise also helped in preventing relapse. One big challenge that is mentioned in this study is how it is very hard to measure depression, but overall the study concluded that doctors should add exercise to treatment plans for depressed patients. I really do believe that exercise does help with reliving stress. This article did somewhat of a decent job showing that. I do have a few problems with this article though. The first study after four months grouped the therapy and exercise group together. We don’t even know how exercise stand on its own. We can’t truly see the results of just exercise. My second problem is after a year, they compared those who exercised to those who exercised less. That doesn’t make any sense! We don’t get a true visual of how those who exercised had their depression scores go down. It would have been a lot better to compare people who took the placebo pill (not exercising) to those who did exercise. I would definitely replicate this study in those ways. This would also need to be peer-reviewed by other scientists.
Like I was saying in the beginning, exercise helps with many different aspects to our body, and as I would say, soul. Stated from Krista Stryker, on how exercise makes us happy from Mind Green Body, she talks about how exercise relieves stress. She states that exercise increases the heart rate and actually lowers the stress in our body. As you exercise more, you will actually get better at handling these stress relievers.
Exercise also helps with focus. This is what I have been preaching about lately. Since college is filled with distractions, there is always so much work to be done, and we need to use our time efficiently. In an article on different ways exercise affects your intelligence from Forbes by Jennifer Cohen, she discusses all the aspects in how exercise helps the body. While she talks about focus, she explains that exercise helps the brain focus for a couple of hours after exercising. It really helps people perform at their peak.
I really want to show and see how much this can help students so I thought of a study.
There are 50 college students who will be split up into 2 groups of 25. The 1st group is the control group and won’t get exercising for the 10 days. The 2nd group will be jogging for 60 minutes a day for the 10 days. We are going to give them an assignment, and see how fast they get it done, and of course how they well they did. We are more focused on the time though. I also would like to get data on any distractions they encountered between the 2 groups. I would then analyze the results to see if there was a decrease in time and distractions with the 2nd group.
Null Hypothesis: Exercise does not help students focus.
Alternative Hypothesis: Exercise does help students focus.
X-variable-exercise (that is what we are manipulating)
Y-variable-how well the students focus
Confounding variables-students are already smart, already pretty focused
Chance-could be possible
This definitely isn’t a clear cut experiment because there are so many 3rd variables at play. Another huge factor is that it is really hard to measure focus. There definitely needs to be more meta-analyses done on the topic of exercise and focus because most of the articles I have read are about exercise and happiness. But from what you can see about all these article, there are many reasons why you should exercise. Especially with our hectic college lives. By the way, 20 minutes of dancing never hurt anyone, so have fun with it!
Cohen, J. (2012) 6 Ways Exercise Make You Smarter. Forbes
Stryker, K. (2013). 6 Reasons Why Exercise Makes You Happy. MindBodyGreen.
Weir, K, (2011) The Exercise Effect. American Psychology Association.