Influence of Physical Exercise on Psychosomatic Health

  • Fujibayashi Mami
    Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University
  • Umeda Yoko
    Institute for the Promotion of Excellence in Higher Education, Kyoto University
  • Matsumoto Tamaki
    Department of Education, Faculty of Education, Shitennoji University
  • Moritani Toshio
    Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University

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Other Title
  • 運動トレーニングが心身の健康へ及ぼす影響
  • ウンドウ トレーニング ガ シンシン ノ ケンコウ エ オヨボス エイキョウ

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Abstract

Objectives: It has been suggested that the number of Japanese workers facing stress has significantly increased. On another front, regular physical activity has long been considered necessary for the achievement and maintenance of optimal health. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the effects of short-term, light physical exercise on autonomic nervous system activity (ANS) and depression in the Japanese workers. Subjects: Twenty employees (16 men and 4 women, 37.9±2.1 years) participated in this study. Method: Subjects engaged in a program of physical exercise, including aerobic activity, strength training, and stretching. Participants in the physical exercise program attended a 30-min exercise session, 3 times per week, for 4 weeks. All subjects were examined before and after-physical exercise intervention. Resting ANS activity was assessed by heart rate variability (HRV) power spectral analysis, which enabled us to identify separate frequency components, i.e., total power (TP), low-frequency (LF; both sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity) power, and high-frequency (HF; parasympathetic nervous system activity) power. We used the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) to evaluate depressive mood. This globally standardized, self-administered questionnaire consists of 20-items, with each item scored from 0 to 3, according to intensity. Results: A linear regression analysis showed that Δheart rate significantly correlated to ΔCES-D (r=0.744, p<0.001). We also found a significant negative correlation between ΔHF power reflecting parasympathetic function and changes of ΔCES-D (r=-0.592, p=0.006). Conclusion: We could not fully explain in the physiological and psychological mechanisms underlying this study. However, the present study indicates that an improvement of parasympathetic activity through a short-term physical exercise relates to favorable changes in the depressed mood of Japanese employees. Depression represents an important link between cardiovascular diseases and multiple health risks. This study further implies that light physical exercise offers an important strategy for restoring autonomic function and preventing depression.

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