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Exercise improves mental state of individuals with physical disabilities (press release)

Friday, August 11, 2006 by: NewsTarget
Tags: health news, Natural News, nutrition

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Individuals with physical disabilities who participate in regular physical activity benefit emotionally from exercise, according to a University of Florida study.

Led by Peter Giacobbi, assistant professor in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology in the College of Health and Human Performance, researchers monitored 48 individuals from around the United States with various physical disabilities who use wheelchairs. During eight consecutive days, these participants completed questionnaires to assess personality and daily evaluations of mood, physical activity and emotional reaction to daily life events.

“On the days in which participants were more active, positive mood increased and negative mood decreased,” Giacobbi said. “Further, on days participants were active and experienced a negative event, they approached the obstacle with a more positive attitude.”

A second purpose of this study was to determine if particular personality traits had an effect on the relationship between exercise and mood, Giacobbi said.

Results showed individuals with higher levels of neuroticism, characterized by anxiousness, depression, self-consciousness, anger/hostility, impulsiveness and vulnerability, experienced the most benefits from physical activity.

“Neuroticism is a normal personality trait,” Giacobbi said. “A little bit of this trait is OK for anyone. But someone who scores above published norms might be referred to psychotherapy or counseling. From my perspective, exercise has physical health benefits and is a cheaper alternative than drug treatment or counseling.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, there are about 54 million people with disabling conditions and about half of them state their disability affects one or more activities of daily living. Additionally, research has shown that people with disabilities are less likely to participate in regular physical activity compared to other groups.

“Not only is it important to probe the physical effects of exercise on people with disabilities, but also the emotional affects that may play a part in increasing or decreasing likelihood to participate in physical activity,” Giacobbi said.

The study was published in the April 2006 issue of Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly.

“This study confirms what most of us in the disability sport movement have supposed for years,” said Dug Jones, head coach of the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks, 2006 Division I National Champions. “The development of an active, physical lifestyle for persons with disabilities has implications far beyond just physical fitness. This study adds needed credibility to that impression.”

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