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Article

Physical Activity, Physical Fitness, and Cognition  

Jennifer L. Etnier

There is substantial interest in identifying the behavioral means by which to improve cognitive performance. Recent research and commercial ventures have focused on cognitive training interventions, but evidence suggests that the effects of these programs are small and task-specific. Researchers have also shown interest in exploring the potential benefits of physical activity for cognitive performance. Because the effects of physical activity have been found to be small to moderate and to be more global in nature, interest in physical activity has been growing over the past several decades. Evidence regarding the efficacy of physical activity is provided through cross-sectional studies, longitudinal prospective studies, and randomized controlled trials. When reviewed meta-analytically, small-to-moderate beneficial effects are reported for children, adults, older adults, and cognitively impaired older adults, and these effects are evident for a wide range of cognitive domains, including executive function, memory, and information processing. Researchers are currently focused on identifying the mechanisms of these effects. Most of this research has been conducted using animal models, but there is a growing body of literature with humans. From this evidence, there is support for the role of changes in cerebral structure, hippocampal perfusion, and growth factors in explaining the observed benefits. Thus far, however, the literature is quite sparse, and future research is needed to clarify our understanding of the mechanisms that provide the causal link between physical activity and cognitive performance. Research is also focused on understanding how to increase the benefits by potentially combining cognitive training with physical activity and by identifying the genetic moderators of the effects. These lines of work are designed to elucidate ways of increasing the magnitude of the benefits that can be obtained. At this point in time, the evidence with respect to the potential of physical activity for benefiting cognitive performance is quite promising, but it is critical that funding agencies commit their support to the continued exploration necessary to allow us to ultimately be able to prescribe physical activity to specific individuals with the express purpose of improving cognition.

Article

Characteristics, Mechanisms, and Health Implications of Exercise-Induced Hypoalgesia  

Laura D. Ellingson and Christopher D. Black

Exercise is known to exert an influence on pain. Specifically, sensitivity to pain decreases both during and following a single bout of exercise—a phenomenon that has been termed exercise-induced hypoalgesia (EIH). EIH has been shown to occur following a variety of types of exercise including aerobic, dynamic resistance, as well as intermittent and continuous isometric exercise, and with a variety of types of pain stimuli including pressure, thermal, and electrical, among others. Depending upon the type of exercise, the intensity and duration of the exercise bout may affect the magnitude of EIH observed. EIH also may be influenced by presence of chronic pain. In individuals with chronic pain conditions, exercise can have both hypo- and hyperalgesic effects, again depending on the specifics of the exercise stimulus itself. The mechanisms underlying EIH have not been definitively established. However, a number of potentially viable mechanisms have been examined including: release of stress mediators such as adrenocorticotrophic hormone and growth hormone (GH), stimulation of the endogenous opioid system, interactions between the pain modulatory system and the cardiovascular system resulting from shared neurological pathways, activation of the endocannabinoid (eCB) system, and engagement of supraspinal pain inhibitory mechanisms via conditioned pain modulation (CPM). There is also some evidence that psychosocial factors, including pain-related beliefs like catastrophizing and expectation, may influence EIH. Research in EIH has several important implications for research and practice. In healthy adults, reduced sensitivity to pain is a salient benefit of exercise and EIH responses may play a role in exercise adherence. For chronic pain patients, research on EIH has the potential to uncover mechanisms related to maintenance of chronic pain. Improving our understanding of how and why hyperalgesia occurs following exercise in these patients can aid in understanding central nervous system mechanisms of disease maintenance and ultimately may help to avoid symptom exacerbation with exercise. However, there remain practical and mechanistic questions to be examined. Translating reductions in pain sensitivity that occur with exercise under controlled laboratory conditions to situations that are more naturalistic will be an important next step for promoting physical activity as a treatment for pain.

Article

Psychosocial Measurement Issues in Sport and Exercise Settings  

Gershon Tenenbaum and Edson Filho

Trustworthy measurement is essential to make inferences about people and events, as well as to make scientific inquiries and comprehend human behaviors. Measurement is used for validating and building theories, substantiating research endeavors, contributing to science, and supporting a variety of applications. Sport and exercise psychology is a theoretical and practical domain derived from two domains: psychology and kinesiology. As such, the measurement methods used by scientists and practitioners relate to the acquisition of motor skills (i.e., genetics and environment-deliberate practice), physiological measures (e.g., heart rate pulse, heart rate variability, breathing amplitude and frequency, galvanic skin response, and electrocardiogram), and psychological measures including introspective instruments in the form of questionnaires, interviews, and observations. Sport and exercise psychology entails the measurement of motor performance (e.g., time-trials, one repetition maximum tests), cognitive development (e.g., knowledge base and structure, deliberate practice, perception-cognition, attention, memory), social aspects (e.g., team dynamics, cohesion, leadership, shared mental models, coach-performer interaction), the self (e.g., self-esteem, self-concept, physical self), affective and emotional states (e.g., mood, burnout), and psychological skills (e.g. imagery, goal-setting, relaxation, emotion regulation, stress management, self-talk, relaxation, and pre-performance routine). Sport and exercise psychologists are also interested in measuring the affective domain (e.g., quality of life, affect/emotions, perceived effort), psychopathological states (e.g., anxiety, depression), cognitive domain (e.g., executive functioning, information processing, decision making, attention, academic achievements, cognition and aging), social-cognitive concepts (e.g., self-efficacy, self-control, motivation), and biochemical markers of human functioning (e.g., genetic factors, hormonal changes). The emergence of neuroscientific methods have ushered in new methodological tools (e.g., electroencephalogram; fMRI) to assess central markers (brain systems) linked to performance, learning, and well-being in sport and exercise settings. Altogether, the measures in the sport and exercise domain are used to establish linkages among the emotional, cognitive, and motor systems.

Article

Physical Activity and Sleep  

Sayaka Aritake-Okada and Sunao Uchida

Research indicates that both acute and chronic physical activity improve sleep. Effects on sleep include prolongation of total sleep time, slow wave sleep increase, rapid eye movement sleep decrease, wake after sleep onset reduction, and shortened sleep latency. However, detailed biological mechanisms of these effects have not been well elucidated. Past studies strongly suggest that the sleep-promoting effect of exercise could be multifactorial. Increase of slow wave sleep, which has been repeatedly reported, strongly suggests physical activity effects on central nervous system function. Physical activity also elevates body temperature, alters glucose, and impacts other metabolic regulations. Habitual exercise also alters autonomic nervous system predominance measured by heart rate variability.

Article

Exercise Psychology Considerations for Chronically Ill Patients  

Ray Marks

There is no doubt that exercise, a vital health-promoting activity, regardless of health status, produces numerous well-established physical, functional, and mental health benefits. Many people, however, do not adhere to medical recommendations to exercise consistently, especially if they have chronic illnesses. Put forth to explain this conundrum are numerous potential explanatory factors. Among these are mental health correlates such as anxiety, fear, fatigue, pain, motivation, and depression, as well as various self-efficacy perceptions related to exercise behaviors, which may be important factors to identify and intervene upon in the context of promoting adherence to physical activity recommendations along with efforts to reduce the cumulative health and economic burden of exercise non-adherence among the chronically ill and those at risk for chronic illnesses.

Article

Psychological Considerations for Paralympic Athletes  

Jeffrey Martin

The Paralympics are the pinnacle of sporting competition for athletes with physical and intellectual impairments. Most Paralympians have intellectual or sensory (e.g., visual) or physical (e.g., amputation, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy) impairments. The Paralympics have become increasingly competitive and larger over the years as they have grown from two countries and 150 athletes in 1952 to 150 countries and about 4,000 athletes in 2012. In the last 10 to 20 years there has been significant interest and growth in the psychology of Paralympic athletes. Researchers are slowly starting to support the value of psychological skills training. Typically, a humanistic personal developmental model that equally values athletes’ well-being and their athletic performance has been advocated. Understanding the various influences on performance and well-being specifically for Paralympians is particularly important given the stress of the Paralympic experience. Research on Paralympians has focused on foundational qualities, which are psychological factors, such as feelings of control, self-awareness, self-esteem, and personality factors. Often these foundation qualities are framed as having an indirect influence on performance through factors like training quality and lifestyle choices (e.g., alcohol consumption). In additional to foundational qualities, a second area of research targets the psychological methods that are used to develop mental skills and qualities. For instance, competition plans, positive self-talk, and goal setting are all methods used to enhance positive thoughts (e.g., confidence) and reduce negative affect (e.g., anxiety). A third area of focus has to do with facilitative and debilitative factors that influence Paralympic performance. For instance, many Paralympians have to manage chronic pain and avoid overtraining and injury. Many Paralympians have difficulty training, as sport facilities are not always accessible for training. Travel to competition sites, especially involving air travel (with effects such as jet lag), is particularly challenging and can negatively influence performance. Sleeping in the Paralympic village can also be difficult, with many athletes reporting inferior sleep quality. Finally, a small body of research has examined the challenges Paralympians face when retiring from sport.

Article

Physical Activity, Physical Fitness, and Depression  

Felipe B. Schuch and Brendon Stubbs

Depression is a leading cause of global burden affecting people across all ages, genders, and socioeconomic groups. Antidepressants are the cornerstone of treatment, yet treatment response is often inadequate. While some psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy can also help alleviate depressive symptoms, alternative and complimentary treatment options are required. In particular, therapeutic interventions that also address the greatly increased levels of obesity and cardiovascular disease among people with depression may offer added value. With the rising burden of premature mortality due to cardiovascular disease in people with depression and promising evidence base for physical activity to improve depressive symptoms, it is important to review the role, benefits, and underlying neurobiological responses of exercise among people with depression. There has been a growing body of evidence to suggest that higher levels of physical activity reduce a person’s risk of incident depression. It appears that lower levels of cardiorespiratory fitness increase an individual risk of depression, suggesting that physical activity and physical fitness have a key role in the prevention of depression. Moreover, exercise can improve depressive symptoms in those with subthreshold depressive symptoms and major depressive disorder. Despite the effectiveness of exercise, the optimal dose and frequency are yet to be fully elucidated. Nonetheless, exercise appears to be well accepted by people with depression, with relatively low levels of dropout from interventions, particularly when supervised by qualified professionals with expertise in exercise prescription. Various barriers to engaging in exercise exist and motivational strategies are essential to initiate and maintain exercise. A number of hypotheses have been postulated to determine the antidepressant effect of exercise; however, most are based on animal models or models elucidated from people without depression. Therefore, future representative research is required to elucidate the neurobiological antidepressant response from exercise in people with depression. Physical activity interventions targeting fitness should be a central part of the prevention and management of depression. In particular, physical activity interventions offer a viable option to prevent and address cardiometabolic abnormalities and cardiovascular disease, which account for a significant amount of premature deaths in this population and are not addressed by standard pharmacological and psychological therapies.

Article

Psychoneuroendocrinology and Physical Activity  

Anthony C. Hackney and Eser Ağgön

Stress is encountered by every individual on a daily basis. Such encounters can be of a negative (distress) or a positive (eustress) nature. Excessive and chronic distress exposure is associated with numerous health problems affecting both physiological and psychological components of a person’s well-being. One mediating aspect of these occurrences is the responses of the neuroendocrine system with the body. Physical activity (i.e., exercise) produces large and dramatic changes in the neuroendocrine system as it serves as a “stressor” to the system. To this end, though, chronic engagement in physical activity leads to exercise training-induced adaptations within the neuroendocrine system that potentiate an individual’s ability to deal with distressful experiences and exposures. Therefore, becoming more physically fit and exercise trained is one potential adjunctive therapy available for clinicians to recommend in the treatment of health problems associated with chronic exposure to distress.

Article

Physical Activity and Stress Reactivity  

Stephen H. Boutcher

Cardiovascular disease has been estimated to be responsible for over 30% of deaths worldwide. The traditional cardiovascular risk factors of smoking, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, and family history predict about 50% of the variance of new cardiovascular disease cases; therefore, a number of other risk factors must contribute to cardiovascular disease development. One such factor is psychological stress, which has been identified as playing a role in the development of cardiovascular disease. The major research strategy for assessing the impact of psychological stress on cardiovascular disease development is to measure cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory mental stressors. Exaggerated mental stress-induced cardiovascular reactivity and slow stressor recovery have been associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. In contrast to exposure to psychological stress, there is strong evidence that participation in aerobic exercise leads to a reduction in cardiovascular disease. Participation in regular aerobic exercise generally reduces the cardiovascular response to acute exercise; therefore, researchers have hypothesized that the ability of aerobic exercise to enhance cardiovascular health works partly by modifying the cardiovascular reactivity response to mental stressors. There is mixed evidence to suggest that chronic aerobic exercise decreases or increases cardiovascular reactivity to mental challenge in normotensive, healthy individuals. A decrease in reactivity, however, has been found in those studies that have examined individuals at risk of disease or diseased adults. The optimal volume and intensity of aerobic exercise that brings about maximum decreases in cardiovascular reactivity has yet to be determined. The impact of other forms of exercise on reactivity such as resistance exercise and interval sprinting exercise is starting to be assessed. The challenge for researchers in this area is to identify the mode of exercise that takes the least amount of time but brings about the greatest reduction of levels of stress-induced cardiovascular disease.

Article

Theoretical Approaches to Physical Activity Promotion  

Nikos Ntoumanis, Cecile Thørgersen-Ntoumani, Eleanor Quested, and Nikos Chatzisarantis

Compelling evidence worldwide suggests that the number of physically inactive individuals is high, and it is increasing. Given that lack of physical activity has been linked to a number of physical and mental health problems, identifying sustainable, cost-effective, and scalable initiatives to increase physical activity has become a priority for researchers, health practitioners, and policymakers. One way to identify such initiatives is to use knowledge derived from psychological theories of motivation and behavior change. There is a plethora of such theories and models that describe a variety of cognitive, affective, and behavioral mechanisms that can target behavior at a conscious or an unconscious level. Such theories have been applied, with varying degrees of success, to inform exercise and physical activity interventions in different life settings (e.g., schools, hospitals, and workplaces) using both traditional (e.g., face-to-face counseling and printed material) and digital technology platforms (e.g., smartphone applications and customized websites). This work has offered important insights into how to create optimal motivational conditions, both within individuals and in the social environments in which they operate, to facilitate long-term engagement in exercise and physical activity. However, we need to identify overlap and synergies across different theoretical frameworks in an effort to develop more comprehensive, and at the same time more distinct, theoretical accounts of behavior change with reference to physical activity promotion. It is also important that researchers and practitioners utilize such theories in interdisciplinary research endeavors that take into account the enabling or restrictive role of cultural norms, the built environment, and national policies on physical activity.

Article

Research Methods in Sport and Exercise Psychology  

Sicong Liu and Gershon Tenenbaum

Research methods in sport and exercise psychology are embedded in the domain’s network of methodological assumptions, historical traditions, and research themes. Sport and exercise psychology is a unique domain that derives and integrates concepts and terminologies from both psychology and kinesiology domains. Thus, research methods used to study the main concerns and interests of sport and exercise psychology represent the domain’s intellectual properties. The main methods used in the sport and exercise psychology domain are: (a) experimental, (b) psychometric, (c) multivariate correlational, (d) meta-analytic, (e) idiosyncratic, and (f) qualitative approach. Each of these research methods tends to fulfill a distinguishable research purpose in the domain and thus enables the generation of evidence that is not readily gleaned through other methods. Although the six research methods represent a sufficient diversity of available methods in sport and exercise psychology, they must be viewed as a starting point for researchers interested in the domain. Other research methods (e.g., case study, Bayesian inferences, and psychophysiological approach) exist and bear potential to advance the domain of sport and exercise psychology.

Article

Portugal’s Resistance to Decolonization and the “White Redoubt” (1950–1974)  

Luís Barroso

Portugal’s resistance to decolonization lasted from the mid-1950s until the fall of the regime in April 1974, and it helps to explain why Portugal fought thirteen years of war in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea. Contrary to other colonial powers, the Portuguese rulers were not willing to accept the winds of change nor to meet the demands for the self-determination of its overseas territories that had swept Africa and Asia from the early 1950s. Several factors can explain the inflexibility of Lisbon to accept them, ranging from the ideological nature of the New State; from the strategic context of the Cold War due to the importance of the Azores islands for the United States and NATO; or from Portugal’s alliance with Great Britain. When the war broke out in Angola, and the Indian Union seized the “Portuguese India” territories in 1961, prime-minister Salazar did not receive the political support he expected from Washington and London as traditional allies. In early 1962, Salazar decided to strengthen relations with South Africa and Rhodesia in an attempt to maintain white rule in its overseas territories amidst a drive for independence by African nationalists, so-called “white redoubt,” that was the terminology used by the Kennedy administration to refer to the set of African countries and territories dominated by white minority governments: Angola, Mozambique, Southern Rhodesia and South Africa. Strengthened ties would aid his strategy to keep the war effort in Africa by taking advantage of the importance of Angola and Mozambique to the security of South Africa. In 1964, Salazar encouraged Ian Smith to unilaterally declare independence from Great Britain to link Angola and Mozambique to the Southern Africa Security Complex led by South Africa, despite widespread criticism of the apartheid in the United Nations (UN). Concurrently, Lisbon tried to seduce Hastings Banda and Kenneth Kaunda in expelling the liberation movements from Malawi and Zambia in exchange for granting transit facilities to ease the international pressure with regards to its colonial policy. Following several years of military collaboration, in October 1970, Portugal, South Africa, and Rhodesia established a military alliance codenamed “Exercise ALCORA,” which aimed to coordinate the global efforts against the insurgency in Southern Africa. Portugal used the ALCORA to obtain substantial aid in the form of military equipment and financial support, which Portugal needed to keep the war effort in the three African territories. In early 1974, Caetano channeled the South African loan to prevent a significant setback in Guinea, because if it were lost, Mozambique and Angola would follow, and consequently the regime.

Article

Religious Liberty in American Public Higher Education  

William E. Thro

A state college or university, through its administrators and, in some contexts, its faculty and students, is a constitutional actor. This statement surprises many who work in public higher education. Because students, staff, faculty members, and visitors retain their constitutional rights, those who act on behalf of public colleges and universities are constitutional actors, the paramount duty is to obey the Constitution. The constitutional obligations trump other duties under statutes, regulations, guidance documents, union agreements, internal policies, and faculty rules. Because they are flawed human beings, university administrators are no more or no less virtuous than other governmental actors are. Like other government officials, higher education administrators may pursue their own interests at the expense of the public interests, may reward their friends and punish their enemies, and may subordinate the constitutional rights of others to their own well-intentioned policy objectives. Constitutional conflict and constitutional litigation are inevitable. Like government officials outside of academe, a public college or university’s constitutional actors must ensure their own behavior conforms to the Constitution while striving to ensure their colleagues also comply. Although constitutional conflicts for public universities arise in many contexts, disputes involving the “first freedom” of religious liberty are quite common. Americans are a religious people and, while they differ on fundamental theological questions, there is a broad consensus around the existence of a higher power. Consequently, their government’s foundational documents explicitly acknowledge the unalienable right of religious liberty. This acknowledgment takes the form of the Establishment Clause, which prevents the government from favoring a particular faith, and the Free Exercise Clause, which prohibits government interference with religious practice.

Article

Neural Plasticity in Amblyopia  

Benjamin Thompson

Early in life, the brain has a substantial capacity for change, often referred to as neuroplasticity. Disrupted visual input to the brain during an early “critical” or “sensitive period” of heightened neuroplasticity induces structural and functional changes within neural systems and causes amblyopia, a sensory disorder associated with abnormal development of the brain areas involved in perception. Amblyopia impairs a broad range of visual, multisensory, and motor functions, and recovery from amblyopia requires a substantial change in visual information processing within the brain. Therefore, not only is amblyopia caused by an interaction between visual experience and heightened neuroplasticity, recovery from amblyopia also requires significant neuroplastic change within the brain. A number of evidence-based treatments are available for young children with amblyopia whose brains are still rapidly developing and have a correspondingly high level of neuroplasticity. However, adults with amblyopia are often left untreated because of the idea that the adult brain no longer has sufficient neuroplasticity to relearn how to process visual information. In the early 21st century, it became clear that this idea was not correct. A number of interventions that can enhance neuroplasticity in the mature visual cortex have been identified using animal models of amblyopia and are now being translated into human studies. Other promising techniques for enhancing visual cortex neuroplasticity have emerged from studies of adult humans with amblyopia. Examples of interventions that may improve vision in adult amblyopia include refractive correction, patching of the amblyopic eye (reverse patching), monocular and binocular perceptual learning, noninvasive brain stimulation, systemic drugs, and exercise. The next important stage of research within this field will be to conduct fully controlled randomized clinical trials to assess which, if any, of these interventions can be translated into a mainstream treatment for amblyopia in adulthood.

Article

History of Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology in North America  

Vincent J. Granito

The history of sport, exercise, and performance psychology in North America dates back to the late 1800s. However, these professionals typically conducted research in the area of motor learning and development, with little connection to other efforts and researchers. They struggled to forge an identity with the parent disciplines of psychology and physical education. By the 1930s, sport psychology was beginning to take shape in the form of topics that would become the foundation of the field. Professionals were also starting to provide services to athletes, such as Coleman Griffith with the Chicago Cubs in 1938. The field came into its own during the 1950s and 1960s as established research labs and educational opportunities became available to students who would go on to develop further opportunities during the 1970s and 1980s. The scholarly journals were launched, professional organizations were set up, and graduate programs were created. Exercise psychology became a subdivision of the field during the 1970s fitness craze, and performance psychology developed into a specialty in the 1980s. This rich history provides a framework for the current makeup of the field and direction for the future.

Article

History of Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology in Australia  

Jeffrey Bond and Tony Morris

Australian sport psychology was effectively “launched” in conjunction with the establishment of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in 1981. Prior to this date, sport psychology sat within the realm of a small number of research academics in tertiary institutions and many more unqualified practitioners with backgrounds in sport, hypnotherapy, medicine, and marketing and sales. The commencement of the legitimacy of the profession in the early 1980s correlated with the co-location of the AIS Sport Psychology Department with other sports medicine and sports science disciplines. From this rather humble but significant beginning, Australian sport psychology quickly became integrated into the training and competition plans of the vast majority of Australian Olympic sports and the developing professional football, tennis, golf, and cricket codes. The rapid growth of the AIS and its team of qualified and experienced sport psychology practitioners, combined with international competition exposure, international conference presentations, reciprocal visits to international sports institutes, and Olympic training centers culminated in the inclusion of sport psychology within the auspices of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the accreditation of undergraduate and postgraduate tertiary programs in Australian universities. Applied sport psychology services are now a regular inclusion in most, if not all, Australian sports programs. An increasing emphasis on athlete and coach mental health in conjunction with the performance enhancement capability associated with sport psychology support has firmly entrenched the profession within the Australian sporting milieu.

Article

Ethical Considerations in Sport and Performance Psychology  

Edward F. Etzel and Leigh A. Skvarla

The field of sport, exercise, and performance psychology (SEPP) has evolved over the past 100 plus years. SEPP includes professional consultants, teachers, researchers, and students from diverse educational and training backgrounds. Persons primarily from the merging of sport science, kinesiology, and professional psychology have shaped SEPP into what it is today. Client populations typically served include athletes, coaches, and exercisers, and more recently, performing artists (musicians, singers, dancers), businesspersons, sports medicine professionals, and military personnel. These people and phenomena have fashioned an ethical climate that is generally similar to—but in various ways different from—mainstream psychology. While the ethical values and codes of organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) are generally comparable, the perceptions and application of these values and codes in SEPP realms may not match; this is due to the different histories of its membership, as well as the sometimes unusual work demands and atypical settings and circumstances in which SEPP persons function. For both mainstream psychology and SEPP professionals, developments in technology and social media communications have presented ethical dilemmas for many who seek to maintain regular contact with their clientele. These issues, such as the use of technology in consulting, emphasize the importance of core ethical tenets such as privacy, confidentiality, and competence, among others, in the growing area of telehealth. In view of the rather unique ethical climate within SEPP, teaching applied ethics via classroom discussion, continued education, and sourcebooks is essential. To date, there appears to be a lack of continuity in the training and supervision of SEPP students and young professionals with respect to ethical decision making. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity to the current and next generation of scholars, researchers, and practitioners.

Article

Physical Activity, Physical Fitness, and Anxiety  

Steven J. Petruzzello

A historically popular research topic in exercise psychology has been the examination of the exercise-anxiety relationship, with an ever-growing literature exploring the link between exercise and anxiety. In addition to its potential for preventing anxiety and anxiety disorders, an increasing number of studies have examined the utility of physical activity and exercise interventions for the treatment of elevated anxiety and clinical anxiety disorders. A National Institute of Mental Health “state-of-the-art workshop” in 1984 was the first significant call put forth that understanding the anxiety-reducing potential of exercise was important and required further investigation. Since the publication of the evidence that came out of that NIMH workshop in Morgan and Goldston’s 1987 book, “Exercise and Mental Health,” a great deal more has been learned yet key aspects of the relationship between exercise and anxiety remain unknown. There is a great deal of work that remains to make good on the “potential efficacy of exercise.”

Article

Axon Regeneration in Peripheral Nerves  

Arthur English

Despite the intrinsically greater capacity for axons to regenerate in injured peripheral nerves than after injury to the central nervous system, functional recovery after most nerve injuries is very poor. A need for novel treatments that will enhance axon regeneration and improve recovery is substantial. Several such experimental treatments have been studied, each based on part of the stereotypical cellular responses that follow a nerve injury. Genetic manipulations of Schwann cells that have transformed from a myelinating to a repair phenotype that either increase their production of axon growth-promoting molecules, decrease production of inhibitors, or both result in enhanced regeneration. Local or systemic application of these molecules or small molecule mimetics of them also will promote regeneration. The success of treatments that stimulate axonal protein synthesis at the site of the nerve injury and in the growing axons, an early and important response to axon injury, is significant, as is that of manipulations of the types of immune cells that migrate into the injury site or peripheral ganglia. Modifications of the extracellular matrix through which the regenerating axons course, including the stimulation of new blood vessel formation, promotes the navigation of nascent regenerating neurites past the injury site, resulting in greater axon regeneration. Experimental induction of expression of regeneration associated gene activity in the cell bodies of the injured neurons is especially useful when regenerating axons must regenerate over long distances to reinnervate targets. The consistently most effective experimental approach to improving axon regeneration in peripheral nerves has been to increase the activity of the injured neurons, either through electrical, optical, or chemogenetic stimulation or through exercise. These activity-dependent experimental therapies show greatest promise for translation to use in patients.

Article

Physical Activity and Personality Traits  

Ryan E. Rhodes and Patrick Boudreau

The physical, psychological, and economic benefits of regular moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity are well substantiated. Unfortunately, few people in developed countries engage in enough physical activity to reap these benefits. Thus, a strong theoretical understanding of what factors are associated with physical activity is warranted in order to create effective and targeted interventions. Social/ecological approaches to understanding physical activity demonstrate the breadth of correlates that encompass intra-individual, inter-individual, environmental, and policy-related variables in physical activity performance. One longstanding intrapersonal correlate of interest is the relationship between personality traits—enduring individual-level differences in tendencies to show consistent patterns of thoughts, feelings, and actions—and physical activity. Personality trait theories are broad in focus and differ in terms of proposed etiology, yet much of the recent research in physical activity has been with super traits in the five-factor model: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Meta-analytic reviews suggest that conscientiousness and extraversion are positively associated with physical activity with some mixed evidence for a small negative relationship with neuroticism. The effect appears to be most pronounced with vigorous physical activities and less so with lower-intensity lifestyle activities and shows mixed evidence for whether proximal social cognitive variables (intention, self-efficacy) can mediate this relationship. More specific sub-traits show that facets of extraversion (excitement-seeking, activity) or conscientiousness (self-discipline, industriousness/ambition) have larger and more specific associations with particular types of physical activity or moderate key processes like the intention-behavior gap. Furthermore, personality appears to be linked to higher-intensity and adventure activities more than lower-intensity leisure physical activities. Contemporary longitudinal assessments of the bi-directionality of personality and physical activity have begun to advance our understanding of interconnectedness. Interventions that target personality traits to improve physical activity have been relatively understudied but hold some promise when used in tandem with larger theoretical approaches and behavioral change strategies.