Benefits of Exercise: Research proposal
The prevalence of many lifestyle diseases has increased greatly in the past few years. Diseases such as diabetes and obesity have continued to hold back the world population over the years due to inability to be managed or controlled effectively. Such lifestyle diseases require behavior modification efforts in order to be prevented and/ or managed satisfactorily. For those already affected by the conditions, it is imperative that measures be taken to improve the health related quality of life through various strategies. Both pharmacological and non-clinical interventions have been found to result in positive outcomes for individual affected by these conditions as long as they make the efforts to change their negative behaviors. Besides smoking, unhealthy dietary choices and excessive alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyles have also been found to result in the development of lifestyle conditions that are chronic. It is thus important for those at risk to engage in physical activity as a way of improving their health related quality of life. Physical activity can help to reverse most of the impacts of physical inactivity through persistence and commitment. Students as well as other people engage in physical activity for various purposes. While some are motivated by the need to improve in fitness and subsequently the health related quality of life, others have other motives beyond the perceptible such as improved appearance and raising self confidence. Regardless of the motives behind persistent exercise, the benefits are undeniable, whether consciously achieved or not. It is thus understandable that most studies would focus on the benefits associated with health since these are the mos.
Several studies have been carried out with the objective of determining how exercise improves the health of the participants. Most of these studies focus on the health benefits alone. However, the benefits of exercise go beyond the health related factors and can be linked to several other outcomes. Studying the benefits of exercise with regards to other aspects of life can therefore help in expanding the range of information available on exercise and its benefits.
There are several studies that discuss the benefits of exercise without focusing on aspects beyond health. As such, a wide knowledge gap exists on the benefits of exercise. It is crucial that this gap be addressed through further research on the benefits of exercise in life and in the general context. The present study views this gap as a research problem that should be addressed through increased focus not only on the health perspective but also on other perspectives to exercise. The study will adopt a literature review outlook coupled with a primary research focus aimed at collecting information regarding the experiences of individuals with exercise.
As several studies postulate the importance of exercise in the improvement of health and health related quality of life, ignoring other benefits of exercise among students and the general public should not be ignored. The present study aims at fulfilling this need in the present literature gap. As such, the study is built around a justifiable objective and can help in the provision of additional academic information. The need for such information cannot be assumed both in the academia and among the youths who will be the focus of this study. Such a study will also be beneficial in helping to curb lifestyle diseases through exercise by making the benefits of exercise clear to all populations. The study will thus be essential in adding value to past researches on the benefits of exercise while also qualifying efforts to encourage exercise among individuals. With the kind of participants that will be selected for the study, it is believed that the intended study purpose will be achieved.
The purpose of the study
In order for the study to be of the outlined importance to academia and to the general public, it will be important to focus the study on a particular area of concern. Because of this, the study will be carried out with the major objective of highlighting the benefits of exercise on health as well as on other aspects of human life. The purpose of the study will thus be to collect secondary and primary information regarding the overall benefits of exercise, to analyze this information and to present it to the public in a clear and comprehensible manner. To achieve this key objective, the study will be guided by the following research questions:
- What are the key health related benefits of exercise?
- What are the other benefits of exercise that are not health related?
It is hypothesized that while most of the participants for the primary research will report being aware of the health related impacts of exercise, non- health related benefits will be more difficult to identify. It is thus the prerogative of the proposed research to provide this information from an analysis of past literature in order to inform the populace of the non-health related benefits of exercise. The proposal will describe some of the literature pertaining to the study subject as well as the study methodology. In addition to this, the succeeding sections of the proposal will also provide descriptions of how the researcher intends to analyze and present information following the study itself. The proposal will therefore act as a blue print to guide the researcher while undertaking both primary and secondary studies.
Several studies have discussed the benefits of exercise in various aspects of life. Through discussions of the negative impacts of sedentary lifestyle and discussions of the benefits of exercise, one can clearly understand that physical activity results in greater benefits compared to other forms of intervention for several lifestyle conditions. According to a study by Warburton et al (2006), physical inactivity has been associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality as a result of several lifestyle conditions. As such, there is need for physical activity to be adopted by all people. Other benefits have also been discussed by authors such as Strong et al and Hillman among others.
Health Related Benefits of Exercise
According to Myers et al (2004) the exercise capacity of an individual performs better than other clinical test variables in the prediction of cause mortality. This implies that individuals who posses higher exercise capacities are more likely to have longer lives compared to those with lower exercise capacities. This view is also held by others such as Warburton et al (2006) and Hillman et al (2008). It can therefore be argued that this assertion is drawn from the argument that exercise helps in the improvement of various health related aspects of life. As many authors claim, exercise helps to improve the health related quality of life through enhancing several aspects of health. Exercise has been linked to enhanced coping with conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. Warburton et al cites the role played by exercise in the prevention of chronic diseases. On the other hand, physical inactivity results in the development of chronic conditions where none existed before and may also result in premature death.
In addition to the chronic conditions, physical inactivity is described as a reversible risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. As such, exercise interventions are said to be effective for reversing some of the conditions. From a study by Myers et al (2004), exercise was established to result in other health benefits such as weight reduction. Through experimentation, the researchers showed that repeated intensive exercise taking at least 20 minutes each day can result in the loss of calories hence resulting in better weights. For overweight and obese individuals, the risk of cardiovascular diseases is higher than in healthy individuals. Exercise can help reduce this risk through weight reduction. Other studies carried out by Strong et al also supported these findings through exploration of impacts of exercise on other health issues such as cancer. From the report by Hillman et al (2008), exercise is correlated with management of various types of cancer. Prostate cancer and breast cancer in particular have been shown to be positively influenced by exercise. Continuous engagement in physical activity helps in the reduction of vulnerability to these kinds of cancers as well as other types of cancer. Myers et al describe the positive impacts of exercise on cancer patients through the claim that through exercise, changes in physiology can be noticed and thus addressed more effectively.
High cholesterol levels are also linked to physical inactivity. Strong et al opine that cholesterol levels rise due to a highly sedentary life and engagement in physical activity can help to dissipate fat deposits around the heart and other essential organs. Through a research based on experimentation, strong et al managed to show the correlation between high physical activity levels and low cholesterol. Similarly, Hillman et al show that high cholesterol levels are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and coronary heart disease (2008). Increase in heart rate that results from exercise can thus help to improve the cholesterol levels in individuals. In a discourse concerning heart rate variability and the impacts on cardiovascular diseases, Billman et al (2015) also support the position of exercise on reducing risk of cardiovascular diseases. Billman et al report that increased heart rate variability is experienced due to engagement in physical activity hence indicating a potential for reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Non- Health Related Benefits of Exercise
While most studies focused on the health related benefits of exercise, most of other studies are aimed at explaining the benefits of exercise besides the health related benefits. For instance, Strong et al (2005) explain the benefits of exercise on brain function, cognition and heart function. Both brain function and cognition may not be directly defined as health related. In a study carried out by Strong et al, it was confirmed that increased physical activity results in significant improvement of academic performance. This is linked to the positive influence that physical activity has on memory as well as on concentration. While explaining this, Hillman et al argue that through exercise, students get their minds off stressful thoughts hence freeing their minds for greater activity. Moreover, exercise also enhances the regeneration of brain cells and subsequently increased brain functioning. From the findings of Hillman and others, it was shown that exercise helps in the improvement of brain functions at the molecular, the system and the cellular levels of life. At the molecular level, brain function is boosted through the ability to produce more hormones in response to positive situations. At the cellular level, exercise boosts cellular performance in various hormone dependent activities as well as in activities that require other forms of brain stimuli. At the system level, the individual performance in various activities is seen to improve as a result of exercise. For example, physical activity results in improved performance in aspects such as sports apart from the academic performance that was previously mentioned. This clearly indicates that brain activation goes beyond the most conventional functions to include even the unconscious brain functions.
Other benefits of physical activity are also described by Myers et al (2004). For example, the authors postulate that exercise leads to the realization of greater self esteem and global self concept. According to other scholars, exercise results in physiological changes that help to boost people’s perceptions about themselves. Strong et al also discuss the concept of improved physical outlook through the recognition of the benefits of exercise in terms of muscle building, fat burning and formulation of body curves. It is also reported that individuals with weight conditions such as obesity often feel depressed and susceptible to low self esteem. Exercise helps such people to reduce their weights and thus do away with image concerns that arise from excessive body weight. In addition to this, exercise also helps in the development of physical posture. This implies that the general impression created by those who exercise is that of confidence and assurance (Hillman et al., 2008). Although the good posture is often linked to increased confidence and better body structure, some other studies have shown that the postural improvement results from the buildup of muscoskeletal structure as a result of physical activity.
Although muscoskeletal build up may be characterized as a health benefit, the explanation given by Strong et al regarding how this happens can be argued to be distinct from health impacts. Various forms of exercise are associated with improvements in different parts of the muscoskeletal system. In most cases, studies report that training with weights and other forms of muscle training help to build up the muscles and the skeletal system. Endurance training, as part of exercise results in enhanced muscle development. Hillman et al (2008) assert that muscoskeletal fitness is improved due to the compression and tensile forces that are prevalent on muscles during exercise. The forces are responsible for muscular contractions in different parts of the body hence aiding in the enhancement of bone strength and endurance. These findings are similar to the presentations of Strong et al who argue that muscular contractions during weight training are responsible for the development of bone density and the associated improvement of skeletal tissues. From the information provided by different authors based on experimentation, it can be said therefore, that muscoskeletal strength build- up is responsible for the improvement in posture. In particular, Strong et al (2005) argue that improved posture comes about due to exercise involving the lower back and abdominal muscles.
The impacts on posture and boosting self esteem notwithstanding, many authors have also directed resources towards the establishment of the benefits of exercise with regards to mood boosting. An example of such authors is Strong et al who assert that exercise results in the release of endorphins from the brain. These are hormones responsible for mood boosting. Their role is to create an overall good feeling in the mind and in the body (2005). One of the benefits associated with the endorphins is their ability to improve the relaxation capacity of those who engage in exercise. From this perspective, it can then be said that exercise results in better relaxation.
The findings from the already reviewed literature clearly indicate the need for further research on the area of exercise benefits. The information may be available yet more needs to be done in order to completely comprehend and communicate the benefits of exercise to others. The research will therefore be able to delve more into exercise and its benefits to individuals.
To achieve the purpose of the study which is to determine the benefits of exercise at the health related perspective as well as in other perspectives, the researcher will use a qualitative research outlook to study. With regards to this, qualitative research has been confirmed to be effecting in scenarios where the research purpose is empirical rather than quantitative. For instance, in the proposed study, the objective will be to obtain information that is theoretical to a large extent. Moreover, the information will be collected from both primary and secondary sources. Through these ways, the information is expected to be highly qualitative. There are various approaches to qualitative research. However, the proposed study will adopt a questionnaire as the tool of research and will use this effectively to gain all the information needed. The design of the study will take into consideration the expected approaches to data collection as well as the time availability for the presentation of the study findings.
Questionnaires will be used as the primary data collection tools for the proposed study. In order to be effective in achieving the objectives of the study, the researcher will carry out a background study on the subject in question. This implies that past literature on the benefits of exercise will have to be accessed. The literature will be accessed from the school library as well as through the internet. The selection of the materials for the research project will depend on various factors. There are many pieces of literature on the internet on the benefits of exercise. However, some of the materials may not be relevant or suitable to the present study. To include only materials that are most relevant to the study objectives, the first inclusion criterion will be based on articles from credible journals only. The research intends to produce similarly credible and valid information for the final report. This can only be achieved when the sources are recognizable, credible, accurate and valid. Peer reviewed journal articles will thus be the most sought after sources for the background information.
Based on the already described research problem, the preparation for the study will involve the creation of the research questions as outlined above. These were created based on the already acquired pieces of literature but may be modified accordingly depending on the findings of the other articles that will be sourced later. This will be followed by the creation of a research outline, choice of participants and locations and eventually data collection based on questionnaires. Prior to the actual data collection using survey questionnaires, a pilot survey will be carried out to determine the viability and relevance of the survey questionnaire for the intended purpose. The pilot survey will be carried out by issuing five questionnaires to five individuals from the researcher’s class. The participants will additionally be asked questions regarding their perception of the questionnaire. Their responses are intended to help in identify any potential pit falls in the main questionnaire and to correct any short comings prior to the actual survey.
The survey participants
A total of 30 students from Abu Dhabi University are expected to participate in the study survey. The participants will be included on a random selection basis and are expected to answer a range of questions regarding personal participation in physical activity as well as their own perceptions regarding the benefits of exercise on health and on other aspects of life. During the selection process, the participants are expected to participate voluntarily and not coerced. Being university students, the participants will be aged between 19 and 25 years of age since only undergraduates will be picked to participate. The choice of participants was also based on the accessibility of those clients in that they are in the same location as the researcher. It was essential to avoid the need for commuting or incurring transportation costs (Babbie, 2003).
The rationale behind the use of survey questionnaire is that this method has been found effective in collecting and recording information in a diverse work environment. While not all people may find time on the same day to participate in interviews, questionnaires do not require such time commitment. They can be issued out and then the participants requested to bring them back or call for them to be picked. The survey questionnaire is reported to be effective for collecting information on personal experiences (Driscoll, 2011). To make its role more satisfactory, the questionnaire questions will be constructed based on the principles described by Babbie (2003). According to a study on qualitative research by Babbie, survey questions should be asked one at a time. This implies that no single question should comprise of several parts to avoid lack of clarity. In addition to this, the survey questionnaires should also be open i.e. give the participants an opportunity to answer the questions independently by not providing leading questions. Additionally, Babbie recommends that the researcher should understand the need for using both open and closed questions. While using closed questions, it is suggested that the researcher should use this for his advantage through accounting for all the reasonable answers. The research questions for the proposed study will also be short and focused on the target answer as recommended by Babbie (2003). Through this, it is believed that the researcher will be able to effectively address all the areas of the research. Each of the questions will also be assigned specific key words which will be applicable during the data analysis phase.
The researcher will select and organize one day on which the questionnaires will be issued out to potential participants. All those contacted for participation in the exercise will be requested to participate in the study through issuing their answers to the survey questions. They will be informed of the research objectives as well as the need for their participation in the same. The researcher will then offer guidance on how the questionnaires are to be filled prior to asking the participants to fill in the questionnaires and collecting them. Each of the questionnaires will be marked by an identification code for ease of data extraction and recording.
Data Analysis and Presentation
After collection of the data, the researcher will focus on analyzing the obtained information. Each questionnaire will have a unique code as an identifier. To create clarity in the answers obtained from the questionnaires, the researcher will use recursive abstraction as the method of data analysis. In this method described by Driscoll (2011), the researcher repeatedly summarizes the data obtained from the questionnaires, eliminating the irrelevant while retaining the information considered relevant to the study objectives. From this point, it will be possible to draw hypothetical conclusions regarding the benefits of exercise on health and non- health related aspects of human life. The analysis will help to make presentations on the findings of the study. The presentation will be done using a report which will contain descriptive information as well as graphics such as tables and charts for ease of comprehension.
While carrying out the study, it will be crucial to observe certain ethical considerations to enhance validity and acceptability of the results. The secondary research will require compliance with a set of ethical issues different from those considered during primary research. Since the secondary data collection process will involve the collection of information from literature, the key ethical concern raised is the importance of respecting intellectual property rights. Resnik (2015) describes intellectual property rights in terms of publication and copyright laws. Only materials offered for public use by the copyright owners will be used in the study. Additionally, the researcher undertakes to prevent copyright violation by avoiding illegal copying, distribution and plagiarism from copyrighted materials. In undertaking primary research, the most essential ethical consideration will be to allow people to participate in the survey exercise through free will rather than coercion.
Most people give false information when coerced to participate in interviews and/ or surveys (Resnik, 2015). The researcher will also hold all the surveys on a confidentiality and anonymity basis. All the information provided by the customers regarding themselves and their lifestyles will be kept confidential. The survey forms will also be issued with identification codes for ease of distinction and classification. This is in order to avoid the use of participant names for the identification forms. The participants will not be expected to fill in their names anywhere on the questionnaires to avoid identification. The researcher also promises to carry out research with objectivity, openness and honesty. The participants deserve to be informed of the objectives of the study in which they are participating and how their participation can help in the achievement of the study objectives. The selection of the participants will also be carried out on a non- discriminative basis as recommended by Resnik (2015). Data collection will also be done without any form of bias. As such, it will be important to go into the data collection field without having preconceived ideas about the expected responses. Due to this, any response given by the participants will be considered important and analyzed accordingly. Responsible publication of the research findings will also be crucial to the academia as well as to the individuals. This implies that the publication of findings should not go contrary to any laws and regulations neither should it undermine the rights of any participants or users (Resnik, 2015).
Results and Discussion
After carrying out the data analysis, the researcher will take the time to present the research results. Since the research is descriptive in nature, it is expected that the results will also be descriptive. The results will therefore be presented following the research questions. Each question will be followed by a descriptive section outlining the findings on that question. After presenting the results, the results will be described. The discussion of results will be done through comparison of the primary findings and the secondary findings. The primary findings will help to put the secondary findings into perspective and to better describe the actual benefits of exercise as described by various participants.
The conclusion of the study will be based on the results obtained and the ensuing discussion. The conclusion section will generally be a recap of the basic information contained within the research paper. While providing the conclusions, the study will also give recommendations based on the observed results and the deductions from the discussion.
Babbie, E. (2003). The Practice of Social Research 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Billman, G., Huikuri, H., Sacha, J. and Trimmel, K. (2015). An Introduction to Heart rate Variability: Methodological Considerations and Clinical Applications. Frontiers in Physiology.
Driscoll, D.L. (2011). Introduction to Primary Research: Observations, Surveys and Interviews. Lowe, Charles.
Hillman, C., Erickson, K. and Kramer, A. (2008). Be Smart, Exercise your Heart: Exercise effects on Brain and Cognition. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9, 58-65.
Myers, J., Kaykha, A., George, S., Abella, J., Zaheer, N., Lear, S., Yamazaki, T. and Froelicher, V. (2004). Fitness versus Physical Activity Patterns in Predicting Mortality in Men. American Journal of Medicine, 117(12): 912-918.
Resnik, G. (2015). What is Ethics in Research & Why is it Important? National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Retrieved from http://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/resources/bioethics/whatis/
Strong, W., Malina, R., Blimkie, C., Daniesl, S., Dishman, R. et al (2005). Evidence Based Physical Activity for School- Age Youth. Journal of Pediatrics, 146, 6, 732- 737.
Warburton, D., Nicole, C. and Bredin, S. (2006). Health Benefits of Physical Activity: The Evidence. CMAJ, 174(6)
APPENDIX: SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE
Kindly answer each of the questions to the best of your ability. The questionnaire is aimed at completing a research study on the benefits of exercise on health and non- health related aspects of life. The first section relates to personal experiences with exercising while the second relates to the perceived benefits of exercise.
Section 1: Personal Experience
What age range do you fall in?
- 15- 19 years
- 20 – 24 years
- 25 – 29 years
Do you engage in a particular type of physical activity such as sports? If yes, which one?
Do you feel your health has been improved by exercise?
What about other aspects of your life?
Would you wish to continue engaging in physical activity?
Section 2: Perceived Exercise Benefits
Mark the aspects of life that you feel do benefit from exercise
- Physical fitness
- Brain functioning
- Cognitive function
- Heart functioning
- Academic performance
Do you feel exercise results in reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases?
Which of the following diseases do you feel can be prevented through exercise? You can mark more than one
- Coronary heart disease
- High blood sugar
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Do you think exercise has significant effects on one’s moods?
Do you believe exercise can help in reducing the risk of developing breast and prostate cancers?