Effects of Cardiovascular Exercise on Clinical Disorders
I've had sleep disorders, often referred to as low grade insomnia, my entire life. Even as a child. While I have always been into biking, I used it in more of a moderate exercise way than actual continues vigorous exercise. For this class I have been vigorously working out more and more, and have noticed some major changes in my sleep patterns. At first, I would sleep on nights that I had gone to the gym earlier that day. Now I am actually sleeping every night without any sleep aids- herbal, natural or pharmaceutical. It is amazing to just be able to sleep on my own. This experience made me curious as to the effects of Exercise on other disorders besides insomnia. So I researched studies that examine the positive effects have on sleep disorders, as well as depression and anxiety disorders.
In the article "Effect of Daytime Exercise on Sleep EEG and Subjective Sleep" by Y. Sasazawa, T Kawada, and Y. Kiryu (1997), the authors explore the the effects of exercise has on the quality on objective and subjective sleep. Through their study they discovered that “daytime exercise shortened the sleep latency and prolonged the slow wave sleep,” furthermore all the participants fell asleep more easily than on non exercise days (Sasazawa et al., 1997, 393). To do this they studied five male students, all were 19 or 20 years old. Each subject participated in high-intensity exercise four days a week where their heart rate was elevated to a target zone of 56.3%. for the duration of three hours. Each was prohibited from drinking alcohol or taking medicine, however, otherwise, they were asked to live their lives as usual during the experiment. Within eight to ten days each of the subjects experienced better quality of sleep, reported the ability to fall asleep easier, and woke up fewer times during the night if at all. Exercise has amazingly positive effects on sleep patterns. As this study shows, it allows people with sleep disorders to sleep more easily without the used of medication. Exercise has positive effects on other disorders as well.
In another article, “Effect of Exercise on Depression” by T. North, P McCullagh, and Z. Tran (1990), the topic of the use of aerobic exercise as an antidepressant was discussed. The authors discovered that vigorous, uninterrupted, cardiovascular exercise significantly decreased depression symptoms within patients diagnosed with clinical depression. While exercise did not alleviate symptoms as well as an antidepressant medication, it was more helpful than relaxation and participation in enjoyable activities. They state “The longer the exercise program and the greater the total number of exercise sessions, the larger the decrease in depression” (North et al., 1990, 404). This finding was true in all test subjects regardless of age, gender, health or whether or not they have depression. Almost all participents reported better mood after only 4 to 6 weeks of exercise. Combined with medication, North, McCullagh, and Tran assert that exercise can be a very good psychotherapy.
The article “Effect of Relaxation or Exercise on Undergraduates’ Test Anxiety” by Robert Topp (1989), out lines how exercise can effect test anxiety. The study tested 45 undergraduates with test anxiety. Of the students, nine engaged in non-meditative relaxation 3 times per week, sixteen participated in aerobic exercise 3 times a week, and twenty were in a control group. The results demonstrated that both the relaxation and the aerobic exercise groups had a significant drop in test anxiety in comparison to the control group. However, the results state that after seven weeks the students who participated in aerobic exercise 3 times a week also “improved their fitness” (Topp, 1989, 35). Topp (1989) reports “that after six weeks of cardiovascular exercise conditioning subjects significantly improved cardiovascular fitness, reduced anxiety, and improved in measures of general psychological well-being” (37). Those in the relaxation group did not improve their fitness level. This study shows us that not only can aerobic exercise increase our health and fitness level, it can decrease psychological problems.
A fitness program can help a persons general welfare significantly. Not only does it make a person healthier physically , it can help with the mental and psychological disorders that many suffer from everyday. Studies have proven that cardiovascular exercise increases sleep ability, and decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thus, the benefits of exercise improves health in almost every aspect of our lives. Sticking to a regular exercise program is important to a persons well-being, and I encourage everyone to continue their programs after this class and throughout their life. Perhaps if people exercised more, there would be not only less physical health problems, but also less physiological disorders. People would then be less dependent upon pharmaceutical, and more dependent upon a healthy lifestyle.
North, T., McCullagh, P., and Tran, Z. (1990). “Effect of exercise on depression.” Exercise and sport sciences review, 18(1), 379-417.
Topp, R. (1989). “Effect of relaxation or exercise on undergraduates’ test anxiety.” Perceptual and motor skills, 69, 35-41.
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