Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Research Paper on Exercise

Research Paper on Exercise

Stress is a factor in everyday life. It affects everyone at some point, usually more than once, in his or her life. However some people react well to stress, others handle it decently, and then there are some that just can't handle stress at all. My topic of discussion in particular is coping with stress as an athlete, how sports can cause a lot of stress, and how non-athletes use exercise to relive stress.

Sports can cause stress from the youngest athlete, an eleven year old who is just trying to impress his family, to a high school athlete, a teenager who is trying to do well in front of scouts so that he can play at a high level of competition in college, to college athletes, who have to do well in the sport the were recruited to play for and doing well in school at the same time, to the pro athletes, who battle stress on and off the athletic field.

"As an athlete you need an extra gear. You need to be able to take everything - family, friends, hangers-on and remove them from the equation." - Dennis Rodman (p. 219, Keown)


I used to play college soccer, however due to a knee injury I do not play anymore. However I remember that when I would play it was a great release for me from my daily stressors. Even during high school, knowing that after school I would either be playing soccer, wrestling or running track was a great way for me to release stress. Even when I wasn't playing a sport I was in the gym lifting weights. However know these days I don't have enough time to go to the gym everyday, but when I do play intramural sports I do feel less stressed for the rest of the day.

Although playing sports is a great way to release stress, many times for a collegiate athlete it's a bit more stressful because of the schoolwork one must do. Jeff , a goalie for a men's soccer team said "While I love playing college soccer, knowing that I have to go on the road sometimes twice a week and having a lot of college work really creates more stress for me than I would like." Jeff likes to go the gym in the morning to life to release stress so that he is not stressed out the entire day. He also goes to the boxing club twice a week to box and get a real good workout, which he says, helps him relieve a lot of stress.

I remember during my junior and senior years of high school I personally put a lot of stress and pressure on myself during sports events. I would think about how well I needed to do in a game because I college recruiter was watching me in the stands. It put so much pressure on me that I would end up doing terrible in the game. My brother, however is the complete opposite. Recently he was asked to play on the varsity team for soccer for his high school. My brother is only a freshman, and giving him great credit this is the first time in the high schools history that a freshman has been asked to play on the varsity team for soccer. I asked him if he feels a lot of pressure or stress. He said he did feel a lot of stress, but "he liked it for some reason" as it gave him an incentive to do better, work harder on and off the field. "Oddly enough it helped me get my studies done as well. I didn't get stressed out about my work with all the attention that was brought to me about me about playing on the varsity team," said my brother. Although he wouldn't admit it to me, I talked to my father the night before my brother played in his first game and my father told me that my brother had a lot of anxiety and had trouble sleeping that night. However, my brother ended up scoring a goal and having an assist in the game, which earned him runner up for athlete of the week in the Bergen Record (a paper in Northern Jersey).
` At my brothers high school they make it mandatory for the coaches to give a seminar once a week (usually Saturdays) to teach all the athletes different ways to reduce anxiety before, during and after sports events. Some of the things that they teach are: progressive relaxation, autogenic training, meditation and biofeedback which all help the relaxation response. Relaxation response is described in Richard Cox's textbook, Sports Psychology, as "the physiological changes that are opposite to the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. Specifically, procedures such as progressive relaxation, autogenic training, and meditation result in decreases in oxygen consumption, heart rate, respiration, and skeletal muscle activity."(p.240, Cox) My brother likes to use the progressive relaxation technique to soothe his anxiety before games. The progressive relaxation techniques suggest that he lie down with his arms to the side of his body. However he also supplements this technique by doing deep breathing techniques as well. They have taught my brother to breath from the abdominal area as opposed to the chest area because the abdominal breathing is often deep, regular, and slow which relaxes the mind and the body; where as chest breathing sends out emotional distress because you are breathing shallow, irregular, and rapid breaths.

"When I would get stressed either from my own team mates, coaches, media or even from just my inner self I would either go to the gym or do some aerobic basketball drills." - Chris Webber (p.114, Albom)

Many times athletes or people in general like to go to the gym to do aerobic exercise or anaerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise "refers to exercise that is accomplished at an exercise intensity that allows for the intake of sufficient oxygen to maintain continuous exercise." (p. 367, Cox) Where as anaerobic exercise is when "the exerciser does not get enough oxygen to maintain continuous exercise. Anaerobic exercise requires the athlete to breathe hard following exercise in order to replenish stored energy."(p. 367, Cox) Examples of aerobic exercise are running, cycling, swimming etc., and examples of anaerobic exercise are lifting weights. Christine Hanson, a guest speaker that we had in class, explained that the benefit of aerobic exercise is tat it reduces risks associated with most diseases (especially heart disease), and that the benefits of anaerobic exercise is that it increases body image. "Exercise helps relieve stress because during it muscles contract, which releases energy; exercise also reduces stress associated with muscular tension such as tension headaches, joint and back pain. It also helps relieve stress because it offers solitude, it gives your mind the opportunity to get away from reality, it could stimulate creative problem solving and it could recharge energy levels to deal with problems at work. Positive moods do show to be associated with everyday exercise as well as relaxation for 90 to 120 minutes." (p. 2, Hanson)

Some people find that yoga is a very good way to release stress from the body and mind. Yoga has become a very popular exercise through out the past few years. Many athletes do yoga twice to three times a week not only to relieve stress, but also to also increase muscular exercise and prevent injuries. Dennis Rodman in his book writes how he went to yoga 3 times a week during the regular season, and after he retired he would go do yoga everyday, and still does yoga everyday. Many students yoga, in fact many students this summer started doing a new type of yoga, which is called hot yoga. Hot yoga is done in a room where the temperature is extremely hot. Numerous women say that it's better than regular yoga because "your muscles can be stretched more because of the increase in temperature." Women say it's very relaxing for her to do, and after she does a yoga workout she feels "very relaxed but energized" all at the same time. Yoga does relax the mind and it increases the amount of muscular exercise. "When large muscle groups contract and relax, the brain receives a signal to release neurotransmitters, which in turn makes one feel relaxed and more alert."(p. 4. Hanson)

For the past month, even longer than that, I have had chronic stress. I decided a few weeks ago that a wonderful experiment to conduct would be one on myself involving exercise. I decided to do this experiment after having Christine Hanson come into our class to talk to us about stress and exercise. I managed to fit 4 days a week of where I could go to the gym for a solid hour. I did thirty minutes of aerobic training; which varied everyday from running either inside the gym on machines or running outside around the area of the school depending on the weather, to even swimming at the pool in Bender Arena. After I did my aerobic exercise I would do 30 minutes, sometimes more, of an anaerobic exercise that varied from upper body weight lifting to lower body weight lifting. At least once a week I would do this exercise that was a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise called plyometrics. Plyometrics is a series of different exercises that use explosive movements to develop muscular power in the body, but mostly in the legs by doing bounding, hopping, and jumping exercise. I usually do these activities by running up and down stairs changing how I have to get up the stairs each time and in a certain amount of time, jumping rope, leaping over a series of cones, short sprints and I use sometimes weights that strap around my ankles to increase resistance. Doing plyometrics really tires you out, but relaxes me incredibly.

My conclusion to this experiment was a positive one, and was something that I have been learning all semester. Exercise does help reduce stress. Everyone around me was able to notice a mood change in me. From hanging out with my friends, girlfriend, and talking on the phone with my parents they noticed and could hear that I was a lot calmer and nowhere as edgy as I was in September and the beginning of October. I have been able to focus better on the tasks around me, and have not gotten frustrated with them since I have started working out.

In conclusion, overall exercise does help relieve stress. The amount of exercise depends on the type of person. An athlete who exercises everyday may use supplemental techniques such as yoga, or other relaxation techniques to help them relieve their stress. A non-athlete may find that going to the gym twice a week either before or after work help them relax as well. However, one must make sure they exercise properly as too much exercise or improper technique could have an opposite affect and cause more stress on the body than is already there.

Warning!!! All free online research papers, research paper samples and example research papers on Exercise topics are plagiarized and cannot be fully used in your high school, college or university education.

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