Health and Physical Activity


 Goals: Know the role that physical activity plays in optimal health from a health promotion model, know how physical activity applies to the five components of health, know issues around adherence to physical activity, know the psychological factors affecting performance in exercise and sport.



The Nature of Physical Activity

Physical Activity and the Five Components of Health

            Physical activity and sense of self

            Physical activity and cognitive functioning

            Physical activity and mood

Physical Benefits of Physical Activity

Adherence to Physical activity

Psychological Factors Affecting  Performance in Exercise and Sport


physical activity & injury

Tai Chi & Chi Kong


Health and Physical Activity

 Physical activity has been shown to be important to some programmes of health promotion
 as well as within the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) model. Here we will focus
 on activity and its benefits for a variety of health areas.



The Nature of Physical Activity - Biddle & Mutrie (2001) delineate physical activity
as sport and exercise, and the research from each can help in application to the other. 


 Psychologists are involved in both areas as  exercise (a leisure activity)
 and sports psychology (psychological factors involved in sports). 


Physical fitness  involves physiological functioning as well as physical attributes that enable fitness. 


It may involve cardiovascular, endurance, muscular endurance,
muscular strength, body composition and flexibility.


Sport is hard to define, is sometime difficult to distinguish from games,
 recreation, play, & leisure activity.


It can be judged to include "activities involving powers and skills,
competition and strategy, and/or personal gain" (Wann, 1997, cited in Poole et al., p. 198).



Physical Activity and the Five Components of Health


Greenberg & Pargman (1989) identify five aspects of health that are important to keep in balance.
The full complement of these spheres of health is crucial.
They are: mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual.

Poole et al give the case study of Peter who had a heart attack then went through
 depression before recovering physically. They report that his mental, social spiritual
and emotional spheres improved along with improvments in his physical sphere.

A this is an example of the general pleasure of active leisure rather than passive leisure (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997).


Rates of Physical activity

While it has been suggested that each person gets at least 30 min of moderate exercise
 per day, Stats Canada reports that in 1996-97 57% of Canadians over the age of 15 exercise
 three or more times per week, while 22% reported less than once per week or never.


British Columbians (30%) reported the highest levels of regular exercise in contrast with the rest of Canada at 20%


Other estimates suggest that 50% of those who started a structured exercise programme has discontinued within six months.


King et al. (1999) report a comparison of Canadian and European adolescents
indicating that there was a decline for Canadians between 1989 & 1998 on
exercising twice or more per week along with an increase in those who watch 
 four or more hours of TV per day.


 Marks et al. (2015) discuss the range of activities that people may engage in that have potential health benefits.

They examine physical activity as part of daily work routines,
transit to and from work as well as planned recreational physical activity.


Social class, age, gender, culture and a number of other factors play a role in the amount
and types of physical activity that people engage in and examine participation rates F10.1
as well as reasons for engaging in it
across two studies in 2009 and 2013.


The Five Forms of Physical Activity

Isometric - involves the contraction of muscle groups against immovable objects
- tension without movement. Works on strength only.

Isotonic - involves repeated and limited movements (like weight lifting or calisthenics)
 working on smaller muscle groups. Works on strength and endurance as does isokinetic.  

Isokinetic - involves full range movements in weighted or sophisticated machinery that adjusts load to position.


Anaerobic  - involves low oxygen because the intense short-term physical activity
 requires more oxygen than is taken in during this period.  

Aerobic  - involves increased oxygen consumption during extended period of time.
The increased oxygen can lead to health benefits in cardiovascular, pulmonary and muscular.


Psychological Benefits of Physical Activity
 Generally speaking exercise makes people feel good and exercise psychology studies this,
along with Sports Psychology it is one of the growing areas of the discipline.


Exercise has been associated with changes in mental states ands well-being
as well as sense of self, however roadblocks, such as challenges in assessing change,
appear which lead to problems of adherence.


            Physical activity and sense of self

Folkins & Syme (1981) have reviewed studies on self and exercise,
they found that most studies were poorly designed, however some changes in self-concept
 were revealed.

(Note: methodologically  the "self-Concept" is very messy with numerous
operational definitions. E.g. the text reports numerous scales for this, p. 211. )

What really does all of this mean if the various concepts and measurements of
 self are quite at odds with each other?


Self Efficacy - One standard of the self literature is Bandura's "self-efficacy"
 or "people's judgment of their capabilities to organize and execute courses of
action required to attain designated types of performances" Bandura, 1986, cited in Poole et al. , 2005).


Similar to 'confidence' insofar as it involves the "affirmation of performance capabilities"
(Poole, et al, p.204) that may elevate performance beyond average skill level.


Challenge-Skills balance is what is require, particularly when one's confidence wanes.
The important component is the beliefs in the application of the skills to the situation.


Sometimes performance reaches a 'mystical' state of transcendence or "flow" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997)
where a sense of effortlessness and stopping of time, pain, & distractions. 

 E.g. Roger Bannister & John Landry breaking the four-minute mile at Empire Stadium
in Vancouver, 1954.  (See Bandura, 1989 & Csikszentmihalyi).


According to Bandura (1989) there are four important components to efficacy:

Performance Accomplishments - involve the actual performances that lead
 to success or failure. Generally speaking, success will increase self-efficacy.


Vicarious Experience - observing others and gaining a sense of efficacy based
 on one's understanding or own abilities with respect to those observed in others.


Verbal Persuasion - is used to persuade oneself or others about abilities and expected levels of performance.


Emotional Arousal - any given level or arousal or emotional state will have an impact

on self-assessment of efficacy. Too much or too little arousal may be debilitating,
techniques like relaxation may be used to adjust it.



            Physical activity and cognitive functioning


Research on the impact of physical activity on mental abilities is unclear.
Etiner et al. (1997) report that exercise and fitness may have a small positive impact
 on cognitive abilities, likely more so for chronic exercise, not acute. 


            Physical activity and mood

Anxiety - research suggests that exercise can have an ameliorative effect on anxiety,
reducing it or serving as a distraction from the source of anxiety.
Effect may be present both during and following exercise. 


Depression - research suggests that non-clinical depression may be reduced with exercise,
acute or chronic, but server depression is not affected. It has also been found the
clinically depressed individuals have lower levels of physical fitness.


Psychological impact of physical activity suggests optimism and positive
attitudes are associated with higher levels of fitness. 


Physical Benefits of Physical Activity


The impact of physical activity on CHD has been shown in a Harvard Alumni study
to be positive where men who are physically active have a 25% lower morbidity rate
for any cause and a 36% lowered chance of death from CHD.


A sedentary lifestyle is described alongside of smoking and hypertension as a risk factor.


These benefits also appear to be present in combating the likelihood of stroke and cancer,
 where physical activity serves as a buffer against stress.



Adherence to Physical activity

One of the most important issues one must face in remaining physically active is non-adherence 
 to a programme of activity, as suggested by Estabrooks (2000,) 50% of people drop out
of exercise programmes within six weeks. 


Because of the difficulty, transient pain, boredom or other such reasons,
exercise is not always pleasant or fun.

Further, the positive benefits usually take time to arrive and be felt.

Zifferblatt (1975) suggests that adherence is related to the visibility of cues
as to why one is following  the exercise program.

Various models brought forward in the text are not clear as they predict or impact physical activity.

Others such as Kirschenbaum (1998) have suggested encouraging sport to make exercise
 more fun and gain better adherence. 


Psychological Factors Affecting  Performance in Exercise and Sport

There are two principle areas of concern in sports psychology 1) performance enhancement, 2) clinical issues.


Performance enhancement involves acquiring psychological skills & methods 
 for attaining top performance.  Arousal or attention control are common, relaxation,
goal setting, and imagery.


Relaxation skills  enable one to reduce anxiety and focus attention.
  PMR is one of several techniques, involves a systematic focusing of attention on
different muscle groups.  This provides a relaxation response that makes good use
 of breathing and muscle control.


          Self-talk  - pertains to what athletes say to themselves around performance. 
 Analysis here can reveal cognitive distortions, irrational thoughts, as well as positive
 thought patterns.  Self-confidence can be built or shattered by self-talk.


Albert Ellis promoted rational emotive behavioural therapy  (REBT)

 which works  to eliminate irrational thinking such as:
absolute thinking (all or none), overgeneralisation, & catastrophisation.

He also suggests that those who avoid exercise
have low tolerance for frustration and often fear of failing.


            Imagery - is used to promote positive states of mind and clean execution in performance.


                internal - involves first-person active internal perspective. 
                    The psychoneuromuscular theory suggests that this type of imagery
                    stimulates the neuromuscular pathways.

                external imagery - involves third-person, passive, external perspective.


            Goal  setting - is an important aspect of sports psychology where different styles of orientation have different goals.


              Ego-orientation focuses on success and failure while task orientation
              focuses on task mastery and satisfaction arising from a sense of competence. 


                  outcome goals  - concerned with the results of a performance

                  performance goals  - relative to one's own goals where success
                                might be evident in light of relative performance.

                  process goals - places emphasis on specific aspects of the performance


Physical activity and injury

This tends to be more clinical where attitudes and goals are concerned as part of rehabilitation. 


Tai Chi & Chi Kong- are ways of moving energy through the body.


Dr Zhu reports that Tai Chi is considered to be a treatment for ill people in Beijing and here.


He reports many benefits from it ranging from: improved blood and lymph fluid circulation,
massage of the lung and stomach cavities, increasing circulation through heart and major arteries.

Tai Chi tones muscles and increases circulation, elasticity and resilience of lung tissue, increasing O2 capacity,
speeds up metabolism, increasing good cholesterol, strengthen immune system, prevents stiff joints
and injured connective tissue, reduced osteoporosis.


Smooth round movements increase blood and qi circulation and strengthens the meridian systems.


Along with stress reduction it also develops social, ethical and spiritual skills.


For greatest benefit, slow down, more exercise from slow movements.