Mood and self-esteem enhancement in different exercise modes
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Although athletes participating in various sports have been found to experience mood changes after exercise, little information about the specific properties of exercise and how these influence mood changes is available. Furthermore, little attention has been given to gender differences in mood research. These and other psychological effects of exercise were studied using samples of male and female high school students (n = 106) from The Dalton School. Teams and physical education classes were selected in order to contrast the various mood enhancing properties of sports.;It was predicted that hierarchal mood differences existed among sport groups in anxiety and depression change from pre to post-exercise. Earlier research suggested that a sport was more likely to enhance mood if it was aerobic, non-competitive, enjoyable and temporally/spatially certain. Based on the aforementioned criteria, track was predicted to be the most mood enhancing followed by tennis and baseball, whereas no change was predicted for a group of dodgeball controls. Another hypothesis predicted that those with greater initial anxiety and depression would experience more reduction in these moods. Since previous research has shown that females typically are more depressed and anxious than males, it was predicted that not only would the girls show greater pre-exercise levels of mood disturbance, but also that they would experience greater alleviation of negative moods.;Contrary to the hypothesis, no hierarchal group differences were discovered for anxiety or depression change from pre to postexercise. Dalton athletes and control females had generally healthier mood profiles than normative samples while control males were similar to norms. Exercise was found to be more anxiolytic and antidepressant for individuals who were initially higher in these states. Since females in this sample were found to be more depressed and anxious, they experienced significantly more psychological benefits from exercise than males. Because of the finding that sports may be more salutary for girls, and the basic physiological and sociocultural differences between males and females, a need exists for studies that focus specifically on mood benefits for female athletes.