Effect Of Fitness Sport Activities On Subjective Experiencing And Psychological States


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 01 . In a wide sense it is an open system of physical exercises, which

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.

Figure 1: General gymnastics scheme (Novotná, 2005)]
General gymnastics scheme (Novotná, 2005)]
See Full Size >

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).

Problem Statement

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.

Research Questions

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


Research Methods

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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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