Mental Health And Well-Being

1.0 Introduction

Mental health refers to a state of well-being, whereby, an individual can realize his or her potential, and can as well cope with normal stress of life. Well-being is a positive impact that is noted to be meaningful to an individual, whereas exercise is any form of bodily activity, which enhances and maintains physical fitness, as well as overall, wellness, and health (Moran, 2013). When someone is physically active, the person experiences various health benefits, both in long-term, as well as short-terms. Moreover, such people have reduced chronic diseases such as stroke, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes (Standage et al., 2012). Evidently, this optimistic appraisal has purposely attracted huge attention, and over the years, the scientific community has been cautious in providing such as a blanket endorsement. Considering the conclusion made by Smith & McGannon, (2018), they note that physical activity relieves symptoms related to depression, anxiety and improves mood.


There are theories that are useful in explaining various determinant factors of physical activity involvement. For instance, the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) has been successfully applied in the enhancement of physical activity behaviour, as it has been used in predicting and understanding physical activity behaviour in different individuals (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2015). TPB is basically a social cognitive theory that illustrates the relationship between attitude and behaviour. It entails the assumption that an individual’s attitude towards an outcome behaviour is a vital factor for engaging that specific behaviour. This theory poses as a prominent theory for predicting health-related behaviours such as physical activity, owing to the fact that it combines social influences with personal factors when predicting behaviours (Ajzen, 2011). The most significant, and immediate antecedent factor relating to behaviour, in this case, is intention, consisting of both planning and motivation. Intention reflects an individual’s motivation, as well as willingness to adapt to a behaviour. Moreover, the explanation of intentions involves three concepts, which include attitude towards a specific behaviour, subjective norm, which is the perceived social pressure of behaviour, and Perceived Behavioural Control (PBC), which is the perceived capability of conducting a given behaviour (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2015). The concepts represent an individual’s motivation towards engaging in a given behaviour.

Theory of planned behaviour

TNoteworthy, because undergraduate students can at times be too indolent to engage in physical activity, the positive impacts of physical activity on mental health and well-being can make them be more inclined towards translating their intentions to engaging in physical activity behaviour. Various studies indicate that TPB constitutes approximately 39-45% of physical activity variance behaviour amongst undergraduate students (Ajzen, 2011). However, it is also evident that TPB constructs are significantly applicable in explaining the intentions of undergraduate students to physical activity, majorly based on the fact that it has a positive mental health outcome. Intention is noted to be the strongest predictor of physical activity, and it is mostly generated by attitude and PBC. As such, Prapavessis et al. (2015) point out that targeting affective attitudes amongst undergraduate students through persuasive communication in this theory is a strategy that can make them physical activity frequently. Through persuasive communication, most of these students can have a positive attitude and as such, can realise the benefits associated with physical activity, especially towards enhancing better mental health and overall individual well-being (Barton & Pretty, 2010). Attitude enhances people’s moods towards physical exercise. Moreover, it increases their energy towards the same, enhances their well-being, leads to improved energy. Moreover, with a positive attitude, they have improved sleep, which would be otherwise, when they have a negative attitude, which often leads to anxiety and depression (Moran, 2013).

Walsh (2011) indicates that instrumental attitudes (cognitive attitudes) are concerned with the results of a behaviour and they strongly determine the physical activity behaviour intention. Undergraduate students have instrumental attitudes towards physical activity, owing to the fact that they are aware of its beneficial effect, yet they do not purpose to frequently physical activity. Ajzen (2011) stresses that the influence of instrumental attitude is associated with varied motivations factors in an individual’s physical activity. Of importance is the fact that instrumental attitude enhances the attitude of undergraduate towards physical activity. On the other hand, physical activity provides them with the opportunity for associating with others, and as such, they may gain the interest of joining in activities, in which other individuals, whom they regard as important are also involved. Such findings denote that being aware of benefits associated with physical activity significantly increases the intention of undergraduate students to physical activity often. According to Prapavessis et al. (2015), it is then argued that health promotion programs that attempt to change the attitude of undergraduate students towards physical activity may not be enough in facilitating physical activity participation. In this regard, interventions pose a better target to the other TPB variables such are PBC and subjective norm, for significant and effective change (Barton & Pretty, 2010). Overall, it could be deduced that undergraduate students need a supportive setting, in order to maintain the physical activity planning, and which can play a significant mediator role through facilitating the transition from intention to physical activity behaviour. However, it should as well be noted that a planned intention is not guaranteed to predict the actual performance of undergraduate students towards physical activity, and as such, it might be modified using another unplanned program (Montano & Kasprzyk, 2015).

Explanations relating to the aetiology of various mental disorders such as mood, anxiety, and depression are derived from various perspectives including genetic, neurochemical, physiological, cognitive, behavioural, social and so on (Moran, 2013). Based on a biological or physiological perspective, it is evident that mood, depression, and anxiety are attributed to imbalances in serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, as well as neurotransmitters, which are responsible for generating positive feelings. The serotine affects the state of emotions such as depression, mood, anxiety, and sleep (Weinberg & Gould, 2018). On the other hand, dopamine affects pleasures in the motor control, as well as the brain, whereas the norepinephrine affects sleep, attention, mood, anxiety, and pain tolerance. Another category of neurotransmitters is called the beta-endorphins, which are responsible for blocking pain, and aid in elevating mood (Smith, 2010; cited in Standage et al., 2012). It is evident that serotonin, dopamine, and even beta-endorphins are detected immediately an individual engages in physical activity.

Noteworthy, even a smaller amount of physical activity can enhance positively to an individual’s well-being (Standage et al., 2012). For instance, a ten-minute walk significantly improves an individual’s well-being for a duration of two hours. Similarly, the “dose-response” impacts as studies by various researchers determine the inverse relationship existing between physical activity and mood, depression, and anxiety (McCarthy et al., 2011). An immediate impact of physical activity is that it takes approximately 4 to 6 hours after an individual has worked out for anxiety, depression, and depression levels to return to their stabilised states. Biddle & Asare (2011) indicate that positive mental health impacts often begin at the first occurrence of physical activity, and its impacts are ongoing. Positive physiological changes resulting from physical activity are noted to occur during the first 5 to 6 days of the physical activity regimen onset. In line with these, some of the changes that are reported from physical activity in the first 2 weeks after an physical activity are increase in oxygen uptake, and reduction in the heart rate, as well as blood pressure (Carek et al., 2011).

It is evident that affective attitude outperforms instrumental attitude, owing to the fact that affective attitude connects the feelings of an individual towards physical exercise, whereas, instrumental attitude is just concerned with the positive outcomes that physical exercise brings forth to an individual (Ajzen. 2011). However, it is also worth noting that instrumental attitude needs significant persuasion, in order for someone to realize the outcomes and benefits of exercise, prior to engaging in it. Persuasion communication is beneficial, majorly because it changes the perception of an individual towards adopting a positive behaviour (physical activity).

1.2 Aim

The aim of this research study is to evaluate the influence of effective attitude, towards well-being through persuasive communication, in order to increase the intention/behaviour of exercise, in undergraduate students. It has been noted that there is a great difference between an individual having a positive attitude towards physical activity and another who does not have it. In this regard, an evaluation of the specific ways in which effective attitude affects wellness and mental health in undergraduate students is of great significance, owing to the fact that failure to adopt the attitude could be detrimental to mental health and wellness.

1.3 Objectives

The aim of this study was further broken down into three specific objectives, to aid in enhancing the research process. The objectives include the following:

-To explore the changes in physical fitness, as well as on self-reports of mood, anxiety and depressive symptoms prior to and after participating in a physical activity program.

-To investigate the impacts of persuasive communication on the enhancement of physical activity, mental health and well-being

-To investigate the impact of attitude on mental health and well-being amongst undergraduate students, through persuasive communication

1.4 Research questions

Given the defined research objectives that can aid in guiding the research process and ensuring that its aim is achievable through an evaluation of the aforementioned objectives, the research will purpose on answering the following questions:

1. Will the reported ratings of the participants vary, based on mood, anxiety, and depression, prior to, and after completing a physical activity program?

2. Will the participants’ attitudes change towards physical activity in the course of the study?

3. How will physical change occur, based on the physical activity program?

a) Will the physical change be evident in the participants' general well-being?

b) Will the participants portray change in their mental health?

1.5 Rationale of the study

Finding the most appropriate ways of maintaining individual mental health and well-being through engaging in physical activity was the major inspiration for this research study. Various studies have purposed to measure the impacts of physical activity on mental health, as well as well-being in older adults (Moran, 2013). However, there is a need for additional studies to base their focus on the undergraduate population. As such, this study extends its results from other previous studies, involving older participants to the undergraduate population, who increasingly, are suffering from the impacts of depression, anxiety, and mood. Counsellors in undergraduate institutions, physical activity professionals, as well as any individual working with undergraduate students can benefit from this study, as regarding its findings (Smith, 2010).

2.0. Methodology

Research methodology is a vital aspect of any research study, which contributes significantly towards its progress. This includes the description of varied tools and research techniques that are essential in the research study process (Weber, 2017). Overall, this chapter helps in regulating the progress of the research, and thus, ensuring timely schedule delivery, and performance of tasks, as well as activities. It will first provide the demographic characteristics, then the sample group and sampling characteristics, then the study design, tests, procedures, and finally, the data analysis.

2.1 Demographic characteristics

The participants for this study will be undergraduate students from various institutions of the age bracket of 20-30 years, as this is the most active age bracket. The participants will be both males and females. The study will majorly focus on students who study sports-related courses, and will as well choose a few taking other courses. The institutions will be chosen randomly, based on the acceptance of the management to involve students, to be part of this research study.

2.2 Sample group and sampling characteristics

In a bid to collecting data from undergraduate students, this research study will employ random sampling. Researcher’s awareness of the extent of their study population makes it possible for them to formulate a decision regarding the sampling technique to adopt (Acharya et al., 2013). Based on this approach, this study will contact only undergraduate students that are willing to participate, in order to avoid any inconvenience that may affect the results. However, this then stipulates that the sample will be taken whilst restricting the age factor. The respondents will be selected solely based on their willingness, as well as availability to participate in this study. Basically, I will use 30 participants, whereby, 15 of them will be in the persuasive communication group, whereas the remaining 15 will be in the control group

2.3 The study design

This study will use an intervention/ experimental design by using persuasive affective communication (relating to moods, feelings and attitudes) to promote good things and overcome the bad ones. Between-subjects experiments are used in determining whether a specific treatment works (Campbell & Stanley, 2015). In this research, the experimental design will be used in changing the participant’s behaviour for the better.

2.4 Tests

This paper will involve and independent’s T test, owing to the fact that it will focus on two unrelated groups, the control group and the group that will undergo persuasive communication (Mahar et al., 2011).

2.5 Procedures

This study will involve two groups. A measure of the participant’s attitudes will be first determined, then both groups will be subjected to the test. The first group will be given a document containing persuasive communication, whereas the second group will be the controlled group and will not have any persuasive communication. The persuasive communication document will contain the pros and con of exercising, what the participants stand to gain or lose from the physical activity, as well as the mental health benefits that they will derive. Before the participants, the persuasive communication will be conducted through a delivered presentation in person. This is an effective method, as it will be easy to identify the intention of the participants, as it involves a face to face talk with them. Thereafter a measure of their intentions and mental health will be taken and thereafter, it will be screened. After 4 weeks, a follow-up will be done, with an ‘IPAQ.’ The IPAQ instruments have significant and acceptable measurement properties, just as other good established self-reports. These will aid in determining whether the persuasive communication will work on the first group and whether it will have any effect on the control group.

Study design in a diagram

2.6 Data analysis

Data will be collected from this study, and will be analysed using SPSS, as it will be analysing the independent T test results. SPSS aids in organising and managing data, owing to the fact that it offers a lot of control, as it remembers various locations of variables, thus providing accurate and quick data analysis (Campbel & Stanley, 2015).

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