Physical Fitness and Quality of Life, Research Paper Example


Physical fitness can improve quality of life when being applied on a regular basis. This doesn’t usually take place until a risk is perceived. After the initial risk, risks such as obesity or heart conditions,  is perceived an individual may want to implement a physical fitness plan to reduce the perceived risk. There are three psychological models that help to explain and understand behavior patterns and behavior changes. Though these models are similar, each describes a different aspect of behavior.

Overall Physical Fitness and Quality of Life

Physical fitness can affect quality of life in consideration to health. Physical fitness can positively affect conditions such as obesity, heart conditions, and multiple sclerosis. There are three psychological models that help to explain how people maintain and change behavior. These models will help in explaining the reason why some people are prone to follow a physical fitness schedule and why some people fall through the cracks.

Physical fitness has always been a health behaviour in which most people are interested, yet not many consistently engage in. It brings an array of health benefits including; the avoidance of obesity, improvement in heart conditions and betterment in multiple sclerosis patients. Physical fitness is defined as a state of physiologic well being that is achieved through a combination of good diet, regular physical exercise, and other practices that promote good health (Keane, M., N.D.).  Categorically, physical fitness falls under preventive health behaviors because it focuses on preventing illnesses or detrimental conditions in an asymptomatic state (Glanz, Rimer & Viswanath, 2008). As mentioned above, physical fitness entails more than just exercising the body; the nutritional intake, portion size, and well balanced diets are intricate aspects of physical fitness and have an immeasurable role in it.  If there are not enough nutrients, calories, proteins, and dietary supplements involved in the behavior, the body will not adequately recover and the person may not be able to continue this behavior without bringing injury upon self.

Quality of life is a broad concept that emcompasses the positive and negative aspects of life and this concept can be defined differently based on different points of view (Health-Related Quality of Life, 2011). When the concept becomes health related quality of life, it now refers to this concept as emcompassing physical and mental health (Health-Related Quality of Life, 2011). Physical fitness can improve health related quality of life through lowering potential risks associated with physical health, such as obesity and heart conditions. Physical fitness can also improve overall quality of life when some one is battling an illness such as multiple sclerosis.

Physical fitness is extremely important as it pertains to avoiding obesity, reducing heart conditions and decreasing multiple sclerosis symptoms, thus increasing the quality of life for those people.  Obesity is defined as a body mass index of 30 or higher (CDC, 1999). Research has shown that being obese increases heart conditions; one being coronary heart disease and those conditions are projected to be among the top three causes of death by 2030 (Glanz, Barbara & K, 2008). Greater health benefits (reducing the risk of dying from heart disease) can be achieved by increasing the amount (duration, frequency, or intensity) of physical activity (CDC, 1999).  Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disease characterized by disseminated demyelination of nerve fibers of the brain and spinal cord (Mosby, 2009). Physical activity has been proven to increase physical activity levels, balance and leg strength in people suffering from this condition (Learmont, Paul, Miller, Mattison, & McFadYen, 2012).


            The health belief model, first developed in the 1950’s, is a psychological model that attempts to explain and predict health behaviors (Health Belief Model, 2013). This model works in terms that an individual will take a specific action if the individual feels that a negative health condition can be avoided, has a positive perception that by taking a specific action then a serious health condition can be avoided, or that the individual can successfully take a recommended health action.

An example of this model:

Concept Definition Application
Percieved susceptibility Individual perception of becoming obese Population at risk, reasons for risk: Lack of physical fitness
Percieved severity Perception of the severity of obesity Consequences include shorter life span, heart conditions, diabetes
Percieved benefits Opinion of efficacy of physical fitness to reduce risk Physical fitness schedule: Exercising 1 hour  per day, 5 days per week
Percived barriers Opinion of tangible and psychological cost 1 hour is a small amount of time, 2 days off, will lose weight, be healthier, and look better
Cues to action Practice for a shorter time this month Research how it will affect overall outcome of health, be aware of obesity, set specific times and promise to exercise
Self-Efficacy I can do this! Self-confidence Learn to exercise properly, hire a personal trainer at gym

(Health Belief Model, 2013)

The Transtheoretical model is a model that conceptualizes the process of changing a behavior intentionally (The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change, 2013). The model states that the behavioral change will occur through a series of changes which include, precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance (The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change, 2013).  There are also four stages that occur after the stages of change which include decisional balance, self-efficacy, experiential processes, and behavioral processes (The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change, 2013). The model is basically stating that in order for an individual to change a behavior, there are certain behavioral and emotionally stages that the individual must endure in order to successfully change a behavior. This is a brief description of each stage in consideration of physical fitness:

  1. Precontemplation- Individual is not yet thinking of changing a excersing.
  2. Contemplation- Individual is now aware of a desire to have a physical fitness schedule.
  3. Preparation- Individual is now ready to begin this schedule, 1 hour per day, 5 days per week.
  4. Action- Individual joins a gym and hires a trainer.
  5. Maintenance- The individual has successfully maintained the weight loss for at least six months.
  6. Decisional Balance- The pros and cons of behavioral change which change through the process. Physical fitness takes hard work and time, but the individual will be healthier, feel healthier, and maintain a proper body mass index.
  7. Self-Efficacy- This schedule is possible, it will be followed. Degree of confidence instilled.
  8. Experiential processes- raising consciousness, dramatic relief, reevaluation, and social liberation.
  9. Behavioral Processes- Reinforcement management, helping relationships, counterconditioning, stimulus control, and self-liberation.

(The Transtheoretical Model of Behavioral Change, 2013)

The Social Cognitive Theory explains how individuals obtain and continue certain patterns of behavior (Social Cognitive Theory, 2013). Evaluating behavioral change is dependent on environment, people, and behavior (Social Cognitive Theory, 2013). These factors are dependent on one another. Environment includes family members, friends, colleagues, regarding social environment and the sixe of a room, ambient temperature, and the type of food available, regarding the physical environment (Social Cognitive Theory, 2013). These aspects of the environment can affect a persons behavior. In order for an individual to behavior in a certain way, they must first know what the behavior is and also have the skills to perform the specific behavior (Social Cognitive Theory, 2013).

This theory is relevant to health communication. The theory deals with the emotional aspects of behavior change (Social Cognitive Theory, 2013). For instance, if an obsess person decides to partake in physical fitness, there will be many emotions that accompany this journey. The first being self- efficacy. There will also be determination, followed by an urge to give up many times. It can be difficult for an obsese person to take the necessary steps to become healthier.

This theory is also saying that many aspects of life are learned behaviors. They are learned through the many situations throughout life. If a person is raised in an unhealthy environment, that does not promote physical fitness, most likely the individual will continue this pattern throughout life until an aspect of the environment changes in a dramatic way. It can also be said that if a person is around people who maintain physical fitness and the benefits are apparent, this person may learn to value physical fitness also.

All three models can be linked to physical fitness improving quality of life. Each model deals with behavior modification in some way. The Health Benefit Model predicts health behavior based on a perceived risk. If there is a risk of obesity and heart failure, a person may be more willing to participate in physical fitness based on perceived risk. The Transtheoretical model explains how a person determines that there is a need for a healthier life style and the stages that are endured while obtaining and maintaining this change. The Social Cognitive Theory attempts to understand the behavioral patterns and how and why they are maintained or changed. This theory helps to explain why a person continues to risk their health by not following a fitness plan. Though all are different, they are helpful to the overall understanding of behavior.

Physical Fitness has a direct correlation to quality of life. If a person is healthy, quality of life is better. Physical fitness can lower risk of obesity, heart conditions, and also help people better handled diseases such as multiple sclerosis.The three psychological models, Health Belief Model, Transtheoretical Model, and Social Coginitive Theory allow for a better grasp on behavioral patterns, how they change, and why they change.


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Learmonth, Y., Paul, L., Miller, L., Mattison, P., & McFadyen, A. (2012). The effects of a 120week leisure centre-based, group exercise intervention for people moderately affected with multiple sclerosis: a randomized controlled pilot study. Clinical Rehabilitation. 26(7), 579-593.

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