The Relationship between Physical Activity and Mental Health

By Ezzeldin R. Aly, Sherin Elmahdy and Johnathan Johntan Schrale.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The link between physical activity and mental health is an interesting one that deserves further exploration. However, the efficacy of physical activity in the prevention of mental health problems, as well as in the treatment of psychological problems once they occur, has historically been based on a number of hypotheses that have yet to be confirmed (William P. Morgan 1997). The purpose of this study was to determine if students who live more active, healthy college lifestyles by participating in both physical and leisure activities are less likely to experience depression. A survey was sent electronically via email to 1468 undergraduate students enrolled for 2010 fall classes at Graceland University, Lamoni, IA campus. The survey consists of 25 questions that total the number of hours spent per week engaging in various forms of physical activity, as well as personal experience with depression. The questions involving physical activity were measured with the options A) 0-1, B) 2-5, C) 6-9, and D) 10+. The rest of the questions were answered with a yes, no, or unsure, aside from questions 1,10, and 11, which had specific answers relating to the question. 138 students completed the survey, 59 subjects reported no personal experience with depression, and 59 reported personally experiencing depression, while 20 subjects chose the answer “unsure.” The initial results of this survey showed to be insignificant with a p-value=0.62 on a Chi-Square test. After removing two conditions that had the least amount of recorded time and doing a T-Test, the p-value raised to p=0.045, thus indicating the results to be scientifically significant, and showed some correlation between physical activities that were participated in and personal experience with depression. Some other interesting discoveries from this research were that anxiety showed to be more likely reported among subjects, and 82.5% (113 subjects) reported feeling better mentally after breaking a sweat.

Keywords: Health, Wellness, Physical Activity

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.23-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 406.824KB).

Dr. Ezzeldin R. Aly

Assistant Professor of Physical Education, Division of Health and Movement Science, Graceland University, Osceola, Iowa, USA

I am an assistant professor at Graceland University. Over the past 20 years, I have taught in a variety of areas serving not only as a faculty member, but in numerous other areas, including swim coach. I am known as an international swim coach whose teams regularly participate in international swim meets, at the World and Olympic levels. I hold a Ph.D. in physical education from Whittier College in California, USA, and Helwan University in Egypt. I also earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in physical education and sport science. Most recently, I served as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science.

Dr. Sherin Elmahdy

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA

Johnathan Johntan Schrale

Student, Health and Movement Science, Graceland University, Osceola, IA, USA