Capstone Essay: The Importance of Physical Activity

Physical activity is something that is greatly overlooked by most individuals; the importance of regularly participating in these activities is extremely beneficial to the mind, body, and soul of an individual. The purpose of my research, findings, and conclusions in this paper will be to show and explain why physical activity is so vital to living a healthy and happy life, as well as to compare and contrast how different levels of participation contribute to provide these opportunities. Additionally, I would like to argue enough points to convince my audience to consider participating in regular physical activity if they do not already do so. Asides from studying similar areas of content and researching past writings in the form of journals and articles, I have created a survey (Appendix A) with specific questions to the data I am looking for. I have also included an opportunity to win a $25 gift card for completing the survey to entice more individuals into participating.

My hope is that I will shed light on the many benefits of physical activity and exercise for those that do not fully understand them, and begin to understand why there is a difference in either opportunity or preference for activities. Among the many benefits, I will be taking a specific look at a few that could provide help to many people in today’s world and society if they had more opportunities to participate in exercise or physical activity events. Ideally, I will be able to convince more people to get physically active by reading this paper and realizing the holistic benefits and what they are missing out on. For example, mental health is something that can be completely swayed by the amount of physical activity an individual participates in. It’s something that is severely underappreciated by doctors and physicians, as well as most general education systems.

Mental Health

One thing I’d like to first talk about is how mental health can be affected by physical activity; mental health is something that can be completely swayed by the amount of physical activity an individual participates in. People who regularly exercise tend to have a great sense of well-being. They will typically report having more energy throughout the day, as well as sleeping better at night. This could be used as a type of relief or medicine for some people, but doctors don’t look to exercise or physical activity as much as they could when it comes to mental health. Further, it helps many individuals feel more positive about themselves. Exercise and physical activity have also been shown to help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to get these effects either; all it takes is making a little bit of time in your day to get any kind of activity in to capitalize on these benefits.

According to Scott Paluska and Thomas Schwenk, authors of the reviewed article Sports Activity and Mental Health, “Although people with depression tend to be less physically active than non-depressed individuals, increased aerobic exercise or strength training has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms significantly”. Paluska and Schwenk go on to further state “Anxiety symptoms and panic disorder also improve with regular exercise”. Although there are many reports and evidence of leisure-based activities and recreational exercise leading to a better overall lifestyle and reduced mortality rates (Paluska), the amount of individuals who engage in regular physical activity is still smaller than it should be. According to the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, only 33% of adults achieve the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended levels of moderate physical activity; however, few of these individuals are active enough to derive many health benefits from this level of exercise. Further, according to the same survey, approximately half of the people who initially begin physical activity programs quit within their first 6 months. If more people were educated on the subject and had more easy and accessible ways to achieve recommended amounts of activity, then many societies and cultures as a whole would be improved completely.

People with Disabilities

Certain demographics have shown specific concerns when it comes to physical activity; participation in regular physical activity is significantly among women, older adults, obese individuals, people of color, and people with less education and/or income, and people with disabilities. A big reason that these certain demographics have reduced rates of physical activity participation is because of the availability, or rather unavailability, of activities that will suit their individual needs. One challenge in the physical activity field is how to create an inclusive environment for everyone; the thing is, most of the time it’s impossible to create this type of environment that will suit everyone’s individual needs. Rather, it would make more sense to create environments specifically designed for some of these groups. People with disabilities is a great example; there are about 1.2 billion people with a disability in the world (Physical Activity in Individuals with Disabilities), whether it be physical or cognitive. In the United States alone about 56 million adults, or 20% of the population, have a disability. The World Bank estimates that the world’s population reflects that of the United States when it comes to disabilities at about 20%. It is unfortunate that so many people with disabilities are unable to participate in regular physical activity or organized sport; these activities are what help humans develop socially and emotionally as well as create new bonds with people. When looking at adults with disabilities, it is estimated that only about 12% of them  participate in physical activity on a regular basis. This is a substantially lower percentage than that of adults without disabilities, as I earlier mentioned about 33% of them meet their recommended levels of physical activity. Further, the CDC released a graphic showing the percentage of adults ages 18-64 who get no aerobic physical activity separated by disability type (Appendix B). One can see that there is a great difference between the disabilities as well as having no disability; according to Ileana Arias, the principal deputy director at the CDC, “Adults with disabilities who get no aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely to have cancer, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease than those who get the recommended amount of physical activity”. One amazing way to help encourage more of these adults with disabilities to participate in physical activity is to help create and set up different organized leagues aimed at the disabled community. Wheelchair basketball, Special Olympics, hand-crank bicycling, and plenty of other activities are very well suited to creating a stronger community for everyone. This would further help protect the disabled community from sedentary diseases, as well as give the optimal health benefits that are already gained from the participation in physical activity.

Boosted Energy and Better Sleep

            Another amazing benefit of regular physical activity or exercise would be the major increase in energy. According to Dr. Toni Golen and Dr. Hope Ricciotti, there is a scientific reasoning for how this works. On the cellular level, your body produces more individual mitochondria when you are exerting force or being physically active; these mitochondria are responsible for creating fuel out of the glucose from food an individual consumes, and oxygen taken in from breathing. This results in boosted amounts of energy inside one’s body. Further, physical activity will also boost one’s circulation of oxygen throughout their body. Because of this, mitochondria are able to start producing even more energy and your body learns how to use this energy more efficiently.

            Additionally, regular physical activity can boost your quality of sleep and ability to sleep soundly; according to the medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, Dr. Charlene Gamaldo, moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep one receives. Slow wave sleep is the deepest part of one’s sleep cycle; it happens prior to the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. This is when the body is getting the deepest rest and healing itself. Exercise and physical activity boosts one’s core body temperature, and this usually helps a person wake up similar to how a warm shower would in the morning. However, somewhere between 30 to 90 minutes later (depending on the biological makeup of individual people), your core body will begin to drop back to a normal degree. Your body will have a reaction to this, and it will naturally make you tired or incur sleepiness. Dr. Gamaldo goes on to voice that individuals only need about 30 minutes per day of exercise or activity to see a difference in sleep quality. It doesn’t take long to notice these benefits, and you don’t have to dedicate more than 30 minutes.

Examination of Survey Data

            This part of the paper will cover the survey I created and sent out to my peers. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as many responses and participants as I had initially hoped; however, I was able to still receive some diverse responses and I was able to come to some interesting conclusions. You can look at Appendix A if you would like to see the survey questions, but I will only be referencing some specific questions from it in this writing.

            I was able to secure 42 responses total in my survey. The first question has to do with where the respondent is from; while most of the respondents were from the United States, I did have one participant from France, one from Germany, two from Croatia, and one from Burma. I was lucky enough to have some friends that studied abroad this semester, and they were able to share the survey with some other folks overseas. This helped me broaden some of my findings, as well as show that physical activity and exercise is beneficial no matter where you live.

            Questions 4, 5, and 6 have to do with the responder and ask if they have any physical or mental disabilities or health issues. Approximately 9.5% of respondents said yes to having a physical and/or cognitive disability, while about 23.8% of respondents claimed to have mental health issues. When asked to elaborate, some of the respondents answered as follows:

  • “I have chronic health issues and depression, anxiety, and PTSD”
  • “I have ADHD”
  • “I have… celiac, anxiety, and depression”
  • “Sometimes I have trouble with being very stressed”
  • “OCD, ADHD”

            These are just some of the answers that stuck out to me the most; most of the respondents here seem to have a common theme of anxiety, depression, or ADHD that might hinder their daily lives to a certain extent. It’s important to note that not every respondent filled out this question (possibly due to personal comfort talking about it), but the common theme was there for those that did. This was fascinating for me, because I didn’t think that nearly one quarter of my respondents would have such similar answers for this question; it helped me realize that perhaps these issues (ADHD, anxiety, depression) are more common in people today than I initially thought.

            The next question I had on the survey almost got a completely one-sided answer; the question asks “Do you find yourself with more confidence in your daily life after participating in sports or physical activity?”. I was confident that more respondents would say yes to this question instead of no, but I was surprised by the percent of respondents who answered yes. Approximately 97.6% of respondents said yes for this question; I was blown away that this many people recognize feeling more confident in daily life after participating in physical activity. Not many people may be educated on why it’s important or how it’s important, but based on this survey it seems a high percentage of people are aware of feeling better in their lives after participation in a physical activity. I had a similar question to this one as well: “Does participating in a sport of physical activity make you feel better or boost your self esteem?”. While it’s similar to the previous question, it’s important to understand that a boosted self esteem and boosted confidence are two separate things. While your confidence gives you your ability to perform well in a situation, your self esteem has to do with how you view yourself. About 90.5% answered Yes to this question, while 9.5% answered Sometimes. Surprisingly, there were no respondents who answered No this question. It seems that even if this physical activity doesn’t always boost someone’s self esteem or confidence, there is little to no chance of it negatively affecting one’s self esteem or confidence.

Another question that yielded interesting results is as follows: “Do you feel confident in your skills (motor, movement, coordination) when participating in a given activity?”. There were three possible answers for this question, them being Yes, No, or Maybe depending on the activity. 68.3% of respondents said Yes; more than half of the people surveyed feel confident when they participate in physical activity opportunities, and it was surprising to see this. What was even more surprising was that nobody said No for an answer; the remaining 31.7% of respondents said Maybe depending on the activity. This is a big leap for the world of physical activity and recreation because more people are seeming confident about themselves and participation in these activities. Even a couple decades ago, this percentage would not be as high in terms of an individual’s confidence.

I included one question on this survey that asked respondents to reply with what they would change about their local opportunities for physical activity, sports, or recreation and exercise; I have included some of their responses below:

  • “More opportunities in school for children with disabilities to participate in mainstream athletic programs”
  • “stuff for people with disabilities and more community focused campaigns for it”
  • “I’ve been very lucky to grow up in a mountain family so I’ve gotten a lot of hand me downs. I guess I’d like to see more free options for the people who can’t afford even something for 10$”
  • “I would say better equipment at the gyms and making the group exercise classes more affordable for people”
  • “More opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in sports”
  • “More organized leagues and opportunities for adults to play sports.”

Some of these replies shared a common theme, while others were more individual. It seems that some of the respondents are aware of a lack of opportunities in their communities for certain things; one example is looking at the answers involving creating more of these opportunities for people with disabilities. While many areas have access to unified sports or the Special Olympics, not every place has the funds or ability to help create these opportunities. This could be due to many issues, such as not having the funds to do so. This brings me to my next point; a lot of people struggle to afford paying bills on time or to put food on the table, or to buy new clothes. These are necessities that come before paying for something such as a sports league, but it’s unfortunate that there are not enough free or affordable activities to do for some people. It may change depending on one’s geographic location, but it’s still important to realize that not everyone is fortunate enough to have these physical activity and exercise opportunities that some take for granted.


These are some of the most important reasons for why physical activity is crucial for one’s overall health and well-being; it has many physical benefits, as well as cognitive benefits that are not as widely known and recognized. These types of studies have been going on for a long time now; the world is just beginning to reach a point where these opportunities will become more available for everybody. The hardest part about providing these opportunities is convincing the general public to participate and take advantage of them. Although there are so many benefits to physical activity, it will take much more advocacy in the future to convince the population to start exercising and getting physically active as a norm.


Biernat, E., & Piatkowska, M. (2017, May 17). Physical activity of disabled individuals in the context of meeting who recommendations and support of local authorities. Turkish journal of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, May 6). Adults with disabilities infographic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from

Exercising for better sleep. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, October 8). 7 great reasons why exercise matters. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from

Paluska, S. A., & Schwenk, T. L. (2012, September 24). Physical activity and mental health – sports medicine. SpringerLink. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from

Physical activity in individuals with disabilities. Physiopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved April 13, 2022, from

Rodriguez, D., Rapaport, L., Jesner, L., Migala, J., Robinson, K., Bedosky, L., & Byrne, C. (n.d.). Why exercise boosts mood and Energy. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from Toni Golen, M. D., & Hope Ricciotti, M. D. (2021, July 1). Does exercise really boost energy levels? Harvard Health. Retrieved April 13, 2022, from

IDS – Do I Own My Domain if You Grade It?

When reading this article written by Andrew Rikard, it really resonated with me. Rikard begins talking about how the audience does not change; he makes the claim that “if no one wants to read the hastily constructed blog post for a class participation grade, then what is the purpose of making it public?”. This is something I have wondered previously; if my work is just posts related to previous classwork, will anyone really want to read it or look further into it? Wouldn’t I want to tailor what I post to a specific audience or targeted crowd? Further, Rikard brings up that students may not want to be represented by their assignments. I have previously constructed my ePort in my first-year English composition class; the work and essays I was required to write in that course are not what I would want to represent me in any professional way (at least it won’t help me reach any of my professional goals). So, how do you fix this? I would fix it by only putting things on my ePort that are important for following and trying to reach my professional goals, such as my updated resume, volunteer experience, bigger classwork/projects such as culminating projects, or even my IDS major and the list of classes I’ve taken.

About Me

I am a 22 year old Interdisciplinary Studies major at Plymouth State University from Wakefield, NH. I created this blog to showcase some of my academic work.