Effects of Exercise on Self-Esteem Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :


Exercise promotes higher self-esteem in individuals of all ages and/or physical capabilities as long as the individual enjoys the particular exercise program or feels there are definite and measurable benefit to participating in the program.

Professional athletes are some of the most self assured individuals in our society. There have been many studies that have shown that these individuals are highly paid yet the majority of them would continue to work at their sport for free. One of the main reasons for these phenomena is that these specialists really enjoy what they do and they feel they get an obvious reward for doing what they do. They literally get paid for exercising.

Exercise provides many benefits. These athletes receive a unique benefit that many laymen simply are unaware that it comes with the turf so to speak. Professional athletes get the benefit of added self-esteem. "Speculation regarding the interactions between physical activity and self-esteem can be traced back to the origins of sport and have been of concern to physical educators throughout the history of the discipline. During the past two decades, however, we have witnessed a resurgence of interest in body-self interactions in sport due largely to advances in exercise psychology." (Guthrie)

Self-esteem is the ability of an individual to meet the demands of life's challenges while allowing that person to enjoy an added sense of happiness and therefore avoid a great deal of self-doubt and other depression related side effects.

Because of this, self-esteem is considered an extremely important part of a healthy psyche by the medical and psychological professions. With America's marriages continuing to maintain a fifty percent failure rate, television and fast-food restaurants promoting a sedentary lifestyle, and the educational status of our students compared to that of the rest of the world continuing to drop, our younger generation will continue to fight an uphill climb to maintain a positive self-worth and normal self-esteem. It is our responsibility to provide ourselves and our community with an opportunity to maintain a healthy a secure self-esteem. We should not just sit around watching I Love Lucy. "Environmental features that entice people toward activity offer another buffer against the encroachments of sedentary lifestyles. Good sidewalks, walking trails, community faci1ities, convenient class schedules and worksite fitness centers contribute inestimably to society's message to stay active. You play a critical role in informing, inspiring and instructing those in and around the intersecting worlds of physical activity, sports and leisure-time recreation. Outreach is the operative word. Move fitness into the community -- retirement homes, schools, the workplace. Reach out with both word and action. Talk the talk -- of fitness, health and the good life that one experiences most reliably in a physically fit and active body. Research gives you the tools to communicate, debate, identify the groups most needing your help and strategize your approach. Use these tools well for the health of the world in which you live." (Gavin and Spitzer)

As our middle aged population is needed to produce more with less help because the overall workforce will be reduced by a baby boomer retirement or two, middle aged individuals will feel pressured to maintain their regular incomes but with that will come the fact that they will have to deal with less leisure time and therefore lower self-esteem. And all of those baby boomers out there not prepared for retirement will feel a low self-esteem as they realize they can no longer afford or live at that lifestyle of which they may have become accustomed. Self-esteem is basically how one sees their own self-worth and their value as a human being. Building self-esteem is an important first step towards happiness and the feeling that life has something to offer.

Self-esteem can increase an individual's confidence. If a person has confidence then they will respect themselves and make it easier to respect others which improve one's relationships and promote health. A low self-esteem, on the other hand, can cause feelings of depression, unhappiness and an overall lack of confidence in oneself making the chance that other's will or desires may take precedence over the low self-esteem individual's needs. Additional symptoms of low self-esteem, like negative self-talk and/or self-criticism, simply direct the subconscious mind of a low self-esteem individual to stumble during the more
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difficult times.

Many feel that life is providing too many potential drains on one's self-esteem. The theory that the rich get richer leaves the poor trying to make ends meet. Therefore, many choose to take the obvious self-esteem fillers in an attempt to regain that empty feeling that something is missing. Solutions for the masses include drugs, alcohol, sexual perversions, and all of the other unhealthy forms of self abuse that are merely attempts to regain that missing edge that is expected for a healthy lifestyle. However, the side effects from these destructive attempts to regain balance are usually worse on an individual's life than the original lack of self-esteem issue that may have promoted the destructive behavior in the first place.

Exercise on the other hand, is completely healthy approach to increasing one's self-esteem and therefore providing a vehicle that allows one to deal with the natural ups and downs of life. It has been shown that the lack of exercise from one's life has a definite negative outcome. "After a 14-day baseline measuring period, participants ceased all training (including other strenuous activities) for a 7-day period. They completed questionnaires measuring mood measures for each of 28 days. What Resulted? Significant increases in anger, depression, negative affect and tension resulted from the period of training deprivation. The most noteworthy statistic was a 249% increase in total mood disturbance during the deprivation period. No differences were noted between men and women." (Gavin and Spitzer)


The evidence supports the idea that self-esteem can increase for children, adults and seniors, black white or Hispanic, rich or poor, male or female simply instituting or adopting a self satisfying exercise program. And the benefits of an exercise never needs to work better for either male or female - it can work equally well for both. Exercise transcends racial barriers and the benefits are positive whether an individual is healthy or disabled. "Another consideration relevant to the current study is the finding that self-esteem is developed by regular exercise and muscle development." (Russell) If someone is participating in their exercise program and he or she believes there will be a benefit to this activity and the exercise program is enjoyable, the overall positive benefits of the program will quickly increase the self-worth of the participant.

The evidence is just to overwhelming to believe otherwise. "Self-esteem changes among adult women who had been practicing Seido karate for at least six months and had acquired the perceived ability to physically self-defend were examined in this study. The research site was a feminist martial arts dojo for women in a Midwestern state. Thirty women, aged 26-62, participated in structured interviews. All of the women perceived improvements in self-esteem after participating in martial arts training for at least six months. These self-esteem changes were perceived to be related to improvement in physical self-perception." (Guthrie) Guthrie's report also showed that exercise, in this case the Seide karate helped the women in other avenues related to low self-esteem:

the recovery from psychosexual abuse eating disorders substance abuse growing up in dysfunctional families

The beauty of exercise is that once hooked, an individual continues to self-motivate and therefore find reasons to increase their own participation in the exercise programs. "This research provides a promising avenue of inquiry for understanding the role self-knowledge plays in the regulation of sport behavior. From a practical standpoint, it also serves to provide insight into functional interventions with the goal to increase participation in organized sport. Through the identification of those individuals in need of attention or development of self-schema in sport, this line of research has the potential to provide a meaningful contribution. For those who presently disdain their self-image in sport and seek to change it, the implications of this research are far-reaching." (Boyd)

Our children are in trouble. As Dr. Phil says, our kids are just gett'n too fat. Exercise has become obsolete in the eyes of many children. Parents and educators need to address the lack of exercise and the related symptoms as demonstrated: low self-esteem, depression and anger. "Even with the obvious limitations of self-report questionnaires, the results of this study indicate a significant link between some domains of perceived self-competency and exercise adherence, and between personality/sport congruence and exercise adherence in this group of adolescents."(Russell) Getting a child to participate in a sport like tennis or baseball actually can make them smarter. "Sport knowledge tests have been shown to discriminate expert and novice performers, concerning sport-specific knowledge and superior decision-making ability, among youth tennis and basketball players as well as college age tennis players." (Boyd)

All these issues will become more and more pronounced in our society as the televisions and video games…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Boyd, Michael and Yin, Zenong. "Cognitive-Affective And Behavioral Correlates Of Self-Schemata In Sport" Journal of Sport Behavior (1999).

Douthitt, Vicki L. "Psychological Determinants Of Adolescent Exercise Adherence" Adolescence 22 Sept. 1994.

Gavin, Jim, and Avi Mark Spitzer. "The psychology of exercise: studying recent trends in exercise psychology research gives clues on how to promote participation." IDEA Health & Fitness Source 01 Nov. 2002.

Guthrie, Sharon R. "Defending the Self-Martial Arts and Women's Self-Esteem [Part 1 of 3]" Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal (1997).

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