Psychological state is a dynamic feature, which can be characterised by a variability of psychological activation and emotional frame of mind (experiencing). The research study works on an assumption that leisure time fitness sport activities can influence subjective experiencing and psychological states. Fitness sport activities integrate both physical and psychological factors. Purpose of the study was to determine the effect of fitness activities on subjective psychological experiences and states. The selected fitness activities include aerobic group exercise, body and mind group exercise, and individual gym training. 101 university students (age 19-23) participated in the research. The method for evaluation of structure and dynamics of subjective experiences and psychological states was a standardized questionnaire (SUPSO). The change was indicated by proportional representation of positive and negative components. Statistical significance of difference between pretest and posttest was evaluated by Wilcoxon pair test (p < 0.05). Structure and dynamics of subjective experiences and psychological states was changed significantly (p < 0.05) between pretest and posttest, in the evaluated fitness activities (aerobic group exercise, body and mind group exercise, individual gym training). The change was represented by proportional representation of positive and negative components (psychological wellbeing, activeness, impulsiveness, discomfort and restlessness, anxious expectations, and sadness). Effect of fitness sport activities can merge into a positive well-being, due to a full concentration on the activity itself, and harmony of body and mind. Fitness activities significantly influenced subjective psychological experiences and states, in terms of increasing positive and decreasing negative components. It is recommended to verify the effect in a wider variety of fitness sport activities.
Keywords: “Well-being”“Physical Activity”“Experiencing”“Exercise”
Optimal physical activity may enhance health and quality of life. Health is comprehended in a
wide sense, as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Health is a dynamic condition
resulting from continuous adjustment and adaptation in response to factors of stress, and variability of
external factors of the environment. Regular leisure time physical activity is recommended to be a part of
a healthy lifestyle and develop health-oriented physical fitness, focused on harmonious motor
development and positive motion experiencing. The research study focuses on a relation of physical
activity and mental well-being, as mentioned above. Changes in mental well-being and psychological
experiencing have been investigated in recent research. Positive changes in relation to physical activity
have been investigated e. g. in running (Sato, Jordan & Funk, 2014), high-intensity interval training
(Costigan et. al, 2016), yoga (Park, Riley & Braun, 2016), and dance (Goulimaris et al., 2014; and
Campion & Levita, 2014).
Fitness sport activities
Fitness sport activities can be subsumed under all-round and fitness exercises in the system of
gymnastics, as illustrated in figure
are characterized by deliberate coordinated movements of all the body and its segments, flowing in a
harmonious composition. Novotná (2005) analyzed and evaluated definitions and knowledge in the field
of gymnastics published in the Czech Republic, where the systematization of gymnastics has great
tradition. She describes gymnastics as a system of consciously performed physical activities that aim to
affect the state of motor system, the level of physical fitness, and motion expression.
Fitness sport activities are divided in group and individual exercise. Individual exercise is an
individualized exercise usually performed in the gym on one’s own, using both exercising machines and
function training with a body weight and various aids (balance balls, kettlebells, bosu, TRX etc.). Group
exercise (classes with an instructor) can be further divided according to the main aim and the content into
aerobic (or cardio) exercise, resistance exercise and body and mind.
The main sense of leisure physical activities lays in physical and mental relaxation, maintaining and
improving health, fitness and performance, physical development and self-confidence.
The importance and benefits can be described in the levels of effect on man:
�physical aspect (motor abilities and skills, posture, muscle strengthening and stabilization -
physical fitness and health),
�psychological aspect (control and management of emotions - confidence, self-esteem,
experiencing - psychological health, emotions as self-feelings, embodied feelings, mental
�and social aspect (social psyching-up – interpersonal experience).
Velínská (2004) described the fields of benefits to physical function in: fitness (aerobic and
muscular fitness), compensation (muscle imbalances compensation, posture improvement) and
coordination (development of space-time orientation, assembling simple movements into complex units,
ability to achieve a target through one’s own body).
As mentioned above, fitness activities can affect not only physical development, but also
psychological and social development of a man. This study concerns particularly with the changes in
subjective psychological experiencing.
Experiencing and psychological aspects of physical activity
Gymnastic movement is generally characterized by features that play an important role in sustaining
the effects of exercise - movement, course, position, execution, expression, plan and experience
(Novotná, 2005). Experiences are an important part of physical exercises, as a result of both physical and
psychological load and tension. In body and mind exercises one can fully perceive motion flow and the
motion takes the attention, so that we forget what is going on around us. Thus a full concentration can
generate a very intensive experience. Neumann et al. (1999) described experiences as subjective,
individual, instant, expressive, emotional and unforgettable.
A positive influence of physical activity on health in general is generally being recognized,
however, this recognition is based on activity that is regular, targeted, adequate and optimized to
individual needs. If the strenuousness of the activity exceeds the musculoskeletal system preparedness,
pain can be induced in response. Relation of pain and psychological factors have been investigated in
non-specific low back pain, which is a frequent health problem (Hides, Jull & Richardson, 2001).
Psychological factors in chronic low back pain can also influence the therapy outcome; a fear of pain can
lead to changes in movement patters (fear avoidance model).
Půža and Komeštík (2012) emphasized the current trend in the field of physical activity, focused
on such sport activities, which are based on positive and meaningful experiences. Experiencing is
connected to physical load, satisfaction of performance and proving one’s own physical and mental
strength. Experiencing and responsive behaviour can be determined by its speed, intensity and
coordination (Mikšík, 2004).
A general key feature of every situational change is a dynamic change of psychological state. A
psychological state was characterized by Mikšík (2004) as a state of coping with individual differences,
expressed by proportional representation of the given components. Both positive and negative
components normally exist in typical mutual relations, through which individual differences can be
characterized, in their psychological activations and their prevailing psychological states.
The research study deals with fitness sport activities and possible psychological effects in
experiencing common feelings of individuals. It was assumed that the fitness activities would change
subjective psychological experiences and states in terms of a positive change (increase in positive
components and decrease in negative components.)
Purpose of the Study
Fitness sport activities integrate both physical and psychological factors. The research study was
carried out to evaluate experiencing and current feelings of individuals, and their possible changes in
terms of effect of the selected fitness activities on subjective psychological experiences and states. The
selected fitness activities included aerobic group exercise (represented by jumping and interval core
training), body and mind group exercise (represented by pilates and health exercise), and individual gym
The research was carried out as a quasi-experiment with an empirical, causal design. The data were
processed by quantitative analysis.
The research sample comprised 101 participants. The key criterion for inclusion was their regular
leisure fitness physical activity for at least 2 months preceding data collection. The participants were
university students (age 19 - 23, 31 men and 70 women) who studied Economics and Management
programmes, all of them attending voluntary classes of physical activities. The classes are a part of a
complex system of voluntary physical activities attended by students of University of Hradec Kralove.
Minimal volume and frequency of the physical activity is 1,5 hour once a week and the aim is to
compensate for sedentary study demands, to prevent from muscle imbalances, and to motivate students to
regular and targeted physical activity.
The assumed effect is investigated by the selected indicators of qualitative changes. Data were
collected by means of SUPSO questionnaire (Mikšík, 2004). SUPSO is a standardized tool to evaluate
structure and dynamics of subjective experiences and individual states. The indicators of psychological
state of participants comprised 2 positive components (P - psychological well-being, and A – Activeness)
and 5 negative components (I -impulsiveness, Di - discomfort and restlessness, De – depression and
exhaustion, F - fears and anxious expectations, and S – sadness). The scales contain adjectives (n = 24).
The aim is to evaluate nature, level and quality of experiencing and activation. Qualitative changes in the
structure are assumed to be influenced by a specific complex of situational variables and internal changes.
In its integrity, the components can be expressed in gross score, or in their proportional representation.
Data were analysed by quantitative analysis. Statistical significance of the difference between pre-
test and post-test was evaluated by nonparametric Wilcoxon pair test (p < 0.05). In analysis the results
were evaluated in terms of increasing positive and decreasing negative components. The positive
components (experiencing and activation associated with feelings of comfort) integrated in evaluation
were: psychological wellbeing and activeness. The negative components (associated with feelings of
discomfort) integrated in the questionnaire were: impulsiveness, discomfort and restlessness, depression
and exhaustion, fears and anxious expectations, and sadness. A set condition for verification was a
significant change in majority of indicators.
The significance of the difference was tested in statistical analysis (Wilcoxon pair test, p < 0.05),
regarding 2 positive components and 5 negative components of psychological state. Increase of positive
components was verified by means of the 2 indicators (P - psychological well-being, and A – Activeness).
In the component of Activeness, there was a significant difference between pre-test and post-test in all
three selected fitness activities. In the component of Psychological well-being, the difference was
significant for body and mind and for individual gym exercise. The overall results support the influence
of fitness sport activities on increase of positive components of psychological state.
Decrease of negative components was verified by means of the 5 indicators (I -impulsiveness, Di -
discomfort and restlessness, De – depression and exhaustion, F - fears and anxious expectations, and S –
sadness). In all three selected fitness activities a significant difference was shown in the components of
Impulsiveness, Discomfort and restlessness, Fears and anxious expectations, and Sadness. However, the
component of Depression and exhaustion showed a significant difference only for body and mind
exercise. The overall results support the influence of fitness sport activities on decrease of negative
components of psychological state.
The research findings evaluated positive psychological effects of fitness sport activities in
experiencing common feelings of the research participants. The selected fitness sport activities included
aerobic group exercise, body and mind exercise, and individual gym exercise. In body and mind fitness
activities there was pilates and health exercise. Pilates is closely related to contemporary dance as many
dancers use pilates as a basis for dancing technique, in terms of postural stabilization during motion.
Among applied key pilates principles there is breathing, posture, flow, precision, coordination, core, and
concentration. In agreement with the suggested effects of pilates and health exercise on experiencing and
mental well-being, some authors investigated dancing in relation to positive psychological effects.
Hrusova (2015) focused on changes in subjective psychological experiencing in contemporary and street
dance. Goulimaris et al. (2014) and Campion & Levita (2014) carried out surveys concerning changes in
well-being and reduction of stress and fatigue. Pilates, yoga, contemporary dance and other body and
mind exercises are considered to be effective techniques, which can be recommended as movement
therapy, both in terms of psychological and physical terms. The findings of this study, aimed at
experiencing and psychological changes, can be supported by other recent research studies in dancing, e.
g. Jorba-Galdos (2014), Martin (2014), Murrock & Graor (2014), Slavin-Mulford (2013), and Pinniger et
al. (2013). With regard to body and mind exercise, Park, Riley & Braun (2016) also reported yoga’s
positive effects on general health, fitness and relaxation. Concerning negative effects, only few negative
changes were reported in yoga (e. g. injuries, soreness or emotional irritability).
In the introduction, fitness sport activities were subsumed under all-round and fitness exercises in
the system of gymnastics. Apart from effects of gymnastic exercises on psychological state, Erlandson,
Kontulainen & Baxter-Jones (2011) suggested effects in physical terms, in greater bone strength in
Not only body and mind exercise, but also aerobic or cardio exercises influence mental subjective
experiencing and mental well-being. Costigan et al. (2016) suggest high-interval intensity training (HIIT)
as an activity to improve mental and cognitive health in adolescents. Similarly, running is recommended
as a leisure time physical activity to enhance quality of life through positive experience (Sato, Jordan &
Funk, 2014), in agreement with the findings of this research study.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate possible effects of fitness sport activities on subjective
experiences and psychological state. The selected fitness activities included aerobic group exercise, body
and mind and individual gym exercise. All the evaluated fitness activities showed a significant difference
in positive (comfort) components and negative (discomfort) components. The findings suggest that
convenient fitness sport activities can have a positive influence on subjective experiencing and
psychological states and thus enhance participants’ quality of life. However, further research is
recommended in terms of engaging a control group and in wider variety of fitness sport activities.
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12 June 2017
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Hrusova, D., Hrusa, P., Chaloupska, P., & Chaloupsky, D. (2017). Effect Of Fitness Sport Activities On Subjective Experiencing And Psychological States. In E. Lupu, G. Niculescu, & E. Sabău (Eds.), Sport, Education & Psychology - icSEP 2017, vol 24. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 36-42). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2017.06.5